Factors influencing body composition in persons with spinal cord injury: a cross-sectional study

Ann M Spungen, Rodney H Adkins, Charles A Stewart, Jack Wang, Richard N Pierson, Robert L Waters, William A Bauman
Journal of Applied Physiology 2003, 95 (6): 2398-407
To determine the body composition differences across age, 133 men with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) (66 with tetraplegia, 67 with paraplegia) were compared with an age-, height-, and ethnicity-matched able-bodied male reference population (n = 100) using two different dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry densitometers. The effects of duration of injury, level, and completeness of lesion were analyzed in the SCI population. Independent of age, total body and regional lean mass were lower and fat mass was higher in persons with SCI compared with controls. The SCI group was 13 +/- 1% (means +/- SE) fatter per unit of body mass index (kg/m2) compared with the control group (P < 0.0001). Advancing age was strongly associated with less lean mass and greater adiposity in those with SCI, whereas it was mildly related in the controls. Total body and regional arm and trunk, but not leg, lean tissues were lower in subjects with SCI, across all ages, than in the controls. In summary, persons with SCI were fatter for any body mass index and demonstrated significantly less lean and more adipose tissues for any given age compared with controls.

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