Calf muscle density is independently associated with physical function in overweight and obese older adults

David Scott, C. Shore-Lorenti, L. B. McMillan, J. Mesinovic, R. A. Clark, A. Hayes, K. M. Sanders, G. Duque, P. R. Ebeling

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Objectives: To determine whether associations of calf muscle density with physical function are independent of other determinants of functional decline in overweight and obese older adults. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of a cross-sectional study of 85 community-dwelling overweight and obese adults (mean±SD age 62.8±7.9 years; BMI 32.3±6.1 kg/m2; 58% women). Peripheral quantitative computed tomography assessed mid-calf muscle density (66% tibial length) and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry determined visceral fat area. Fasting glucose, Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were analysed. Physical function assessments included hand grip and knee extension strength, balance path length (computerised posturography), stair climb test, Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) and self-reported falls efficacy (Modified Falls Efficacy Scale; M-FES). Results: Visceral fat area, not muscle density, was independently associated with CRP and fasting glucose (B=0.025; 95% CI 0.009-0.042 and B=0.009; 0.001-0.017, respectively). Nevertheless, higher muscle density was independently associated with lower path length and stair climb time, and higher SPPB and M-FES scores (all P<0.05). Visceral fat area, fasting glucose and CRP did not mediate these associations. Conclusions: Higher calf muscle density predicts better physical function in overweight and obese older adults independent of insulin resistance, visceral adiposity or inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Musculoskeletal Neuronal Interactions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Abdominal obesity
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Muscle density
  • Physical function

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