Body Fat and Physical Activity Modulate the Association Between Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis in Elderly Korean Women

Lee I, Cho J,
Ji Y, Ha C, Kim T, & Kang H; Journal
of Sports Science and Medicine. 2016, 15: 477-482.

Take Home Message: Increased
body fat and physical inactivity may be modifiable risk factors for
osteoporosis and sarcopenia.

Sports medicine
clinicians are obligated to educate young patients about maintaining long-term
wellness and promoting physical activity among all patients. Sarcopenia, or the
loss of muscle mass, may lead to greater chance of falls in the aging
population. This is of special concern because this population’s high risk of
osteoporosis, which causes frail bones. Modifiable factors, such as physical
inactivity, may influence the association between sarcopenia and osteoporosis
but there is a need to further explore this possibility. Therefore, the authors
aimed to: (1) determine the association between sarcopenia and osteoporosis in
Korean women 65 years and older, and (2) determine if body fatness and physical
activity modulate the association between sarcopenia and osteoporosis among
aging, Korean women. A sample of 269 Korean women participated in the study. Data
collection included demographic characteristics, questionnaires, interviews conducted
by geriatric nurses, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (for body composition and
bone measurements), and physical activity measured by wearing an accelerometer for
7 consecutive days. Researchers found that lower body mass index and less physical
activity was related with poor bone health. Researchers determined that aging
Korean women with sarcopenia were more likely to have osteoporosis/osteopenia. The
relationship between sarcopenia and bone health may be influenced by increased
body fat or physical inactivity.

The findings of
this study among Korean women are important because they are consistent with prior
studies conducted among other ethnicities. Considered collectively, this research
allows for greater generalizability of the relationship between physical inactivity,
sarcopenia, and poor bone health. The cross-sectional design of this study
prevented the authors from identifying a cause-and-effect relationship between lifestyle
factors to sarcopenia and osteoporosis. However, body fatness and physical inactivity
are risk factors associated with osteoporosis and sarcopenia. This offers
additional evidence that we must educate patients about the importance of
physical activity as we age. It would be interesting to see a follow-up study that
measured physical activity for a longer time and included
 women who need an assistive device for
walking. In this study, physical activity levels could be inaccurate because of
a possible increase in physical activity while wearing an accelerometer for seven
days. Despite this limitation, clinicians should consider physical inactivity
and body fatness as risk factors for sarcopenia and osteoporosis and address
these issues when developing prevention or intervention programs for these
Sports Med Res previously described a study where the authors reported that many former collegiate
athletes fail to meet exercise guidelines. Hence, we need to do more to educate
our patients about the importance of physical activity to reduce the risk of
cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, sarcopenia, and osteoporosis.

Questions for Discussion: Would the
inclusion of men, in addition to women, allow for an increased chance in a
cause-and-effect relationship to be seen between body fatness and
sarcopenia/osteoporosis?  What types of prevention
and intervention programs could be implemented to help combat sarcopenia and

Written by:
Mariel Crawford
Reviewed by:
Jeffrey Driban

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Lee I, Cho J, Jin Y, Ha C, Kim T, & Kang H (2016). Body Fat and Physical Activity Modulate the Association Between Sarcopenia and Osteoporosis in Elderly Korean Women. Journal of sports science & medicine, 15 (3), 477-482 PMID: 27803626