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Keywords:

  • obesity;
  • sarcopenia;
  • sarcopenic obesity;
  • epidemiology;
  • elderly

Objectives

To determine the prevalence range for sarcopenic obesity and its relationship with sex, age, and ethnicity.

Design

Cross-sectional analysis of a population-based sample.

Setting

Noninstitutionalized persons in the United States participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 1999–2004.

Participants

Subsample of 4,984 subjects aged 60 and older with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry body composition data.

Measurements

Eight definitions of sarcopenic obesity identified from six studies found using a systematic literature review (Baumgartner, Bouchard, Davison, Zoico, Levine, Kim-1,2,3) were applied to the sample. Results were stratified according to sex, age, and ethnicity.

Results

Prevalence of sarcopenic obesity ranged from 4.4% to 84.0% in men and from 3.6% to 94.0% in women. Prevalence was higher in men using definitions from Baumgartner (17.9% vs 13.3%, P < .001), Levine (14.2% vs 6.6%, P < .001), and Kim-1 (30.0% vs 9.3%, P < .001); lower for men using the Davison (4.4% vs 11.1%, P < .001) and Kim-2 (83.7% vs 94.0%) definitions; and the same for men and women using the Bouchard (45.3% vs 44.3%, P = .32) and Kim-3 (75.6% vs 77.0%, P = .51) definitions. For all but one definition, sarcopenic obesity increased with each decade and was lower in non-Hispanic blacks than whites.

Conclusion

Prevalence of sarcopenic obesity in older adults varies up to 26-fold depending on current research definitions. Such a high degree of variability suggests the need to establish consensus criteria that can be reliably applied across clinical and research settings.