Depression Is Associated with Sarcopenia, Not Central Obesity, in Elderly Korean Men


  • Nan Hee Kim and Chagsu Han contributed equally to the present work.

Address correspondence to Nan Hee Kim, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University Medical Center, Gojan 1-dong, Danwon-gu, Gyunggi-do, 152-703 Korea. E-mail:



To examine the relationship between depression and various components of body composition, including fat and muscle, in elderly Koreans.


A cross-sectional sample of a longitudinal cohort from the Ansan Geriatric (AGE) Study.


Elderly people living in urban area (Ansan City, South Korea).


Eight hundred thirty-six participants (378 male, 458 female) aged 60 and older were recruited from April 2006 to January 2008.


Depressive symptoms were examined using the Korean version of the 30-item Geriatric Depression Scale (KGDS). Participants taking antidepressant medications or with a KGDS score of 14 or greater were classified as having depression. Abdominal visceral fat area (VFA) and subcutaneous fat area were assessed using single-slice computed tomography, and appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASM) and percentage body fat (%BF) were determined using whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.


Elderly men with depression had a lower ASM than those without depression (P = .01) after adjusting for age, body weight, and height. In men, the risk of depression was lower with higher body mass index (BMI) (odds ratio (OR) per 1-standard deviation (SD) increase = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.51–0.96) after adjusting for all confounding variables and higher ASM (OR per 1-SD increase = 0.49; 95% CI = 0.29–0.85) after controlling for age, height, and weight. Similarly, depression was negatively associated with BMI in women (OR per 1-SD increase = 0.73; 95% CI = 0.56–0.95). Waist circumference, %BF, and VFA were not consistently associated with depression in men or women.


Depression in elderly Koreans is associated with low body mass and sarcopenia, especially in men.