Importance of Avoiding Abdominal Fat as You Age

Importance of Avoiding Abdominal Fat as You Age

© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions

Do you need another reason to lose that tummy?

Well here it is.

Recently released global research[1] finds that as your girth grows as you age, you experience the cascade effect of losing muscle mass and strength and become less mobile, risk falls and significantly increase your chances of developing a physical disability.

You might say this is yet another example of a scientific study confirming common sense. What the study does though is give us some specifics.


Mobility loss

It found that a person over 60 years of age who has abdominal obesity and low grip strength (dynapenia) can experience a halving of their gait speed (walking speed) over an eight year period. The study also points out that abdominal obesity can bring on dynapenia, with the combined abdominal obesity and dynapenia bringing about a lower gait speed.

A lower gait speed cascades into losing muscle mass, strength and mobility, and furthers the risk of falls, permanent physical disability, hospitalisation and death.


Study definitions of abdominal obesity and dynapenia

So the big question – what’s was the study’s definition of abdominal obesity?


If you’re male and your waist circumference is >102 cm, you are considered to have abdominal obesity. If you’re female and your waist circumference is >88 cm, you do too.

You can test your grip strength at home with your bathroom scales[2] or, on your next visit, ask your GP if you may test your grip strength using their hand dynameter. If your grip strength is <26 kg as a male or <16 kg as a female, you fall within the category of having dynapenia.


What to look forward to

So to summarise, according to the research, if you are over 60 years of age and have both abdominal obesity and dynapenia you will experience a halving of your gait speed in less than a decade. And if you just have abdominal obesity, this can bring on dynapenia.


What to do

The take home advice from the researchers is that as we age we must reduce any accumulation of abdominal fat and keep up our aerobic and strength training. These efforts will help prevent loss of mobility, loss of independence and permanent physical disability.


Background on the research

The study, published in the Journal of Age and Ageing, came out of the “English Longitudinal Study of Aging”[3] funded by the US and UK Government.

It was an eight year study of 2,294 adults over the age of 60 years (the medium age was 68.5 years). Participants were divided into four groups and their mobility over the eight year period was monitored. The four groups comprised of participants who had (i) abdominal obesity; (ii) dynapenia; (iii) abdominal obesity and dynapenia; (iv) no abdominal obesity and dynapenia.


If you or a loved one find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet and keep up exercise to remain trim and strong, contact me, Danielle Robertson, to discuss the introduction to allied health professionals in addition to care and support that can be put in place to help you or your loved one improve your quality of life.

Please be aware that my comments in this blog are given as guidance only and are no substitute for professional medical advice.

- Contact Danielle - For An Impartial & Confidential Conversation




[1] Oxford Academic: Age and Ageing

[2] Stand, bend your elbows 90 degrees, hold the scales in front of you, squeeze the scales with your dominant hand and note the scale reading. Check out Bob and Brad’s instructions on this clip:

ELSA Project


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