General and central obesity operate differently as predictors of falls requiring medical care in older women: a population-based cohort study in Spain

Ygor Hermenegildo-López, Helena Sandoval-Insausti, Carolina Donat-Vargas, Jose Ramón Banegas, Fernando Rodríguez-Artalejo, Pilar Guallar-Castillón
Age and Ageing 2020 August 25

OBJECTIVES: to examine the association of general and abdominal obesity with falls, falls requiring medical care and falls with fractures in older women.

DESIGN: a population-based prospective cohort of 1,185 women aged ≥60 in Spain, followed up from 2008 to 2010 through 2012.

MEASURES: weight, height and waist circumference were measured at baseline using standardised techniques. Participants were classified according to body mass index as normal weight (<25), overweight (25-29.9) and general obesity (≥30). Abdominal obesity was defined as waist circumference >88 cm. In 2012, participants reported the falls experienced in the previous year. Logistic regression models were mutually adjusted for general and abdominal obesity and for main confounders.

RESULTS: in this cohort of older women, a total of 336 women experienced falls, 168 of them had falls requiring medical care and 64 falls with fractures. For falls, no association was found with general obesity nor abdominal obesity. However, compared with normal weight, overweight women had a decreased risk for falls requiring medical care [odds ratio (OR) 0.57; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.34-0.94] and for falls with fractures (OR 0.27; 95% CI 0.12-0.63). The corresponding values for general obesity were 0.44 (0.24-0.81) and 0.30 (0.11-0.82). Abdominal obesity was positively associated with falls requiring medical care (OR 1.82; 95% CI 1.12-2.94) and falls with fractures (OR 2.75; 95% CI 1.18-6.44).

CONCLUSIONS: in older women, general obesity may protect from falls requiring medical care and falls with fractures. On the contrary, abdominal obesity increased the risk of suffering from types of falls.

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