Obesity Is Associated With Gait Alterations and Gait Asymmetry in Older Adults

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Hao Meng Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

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Stacey L. Gorniak Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

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Objectives: The prevalence of obesity (OB) has increased in the older adult (OA) population. However, it is not quite clear whether OB exaggerates gait instability and leads to a higher risk of falls in OAs. The first goal of this study was to investigate whether OB is associated with gait alterations and gait asymmetry in OAs. The second goal of this study was to examine relationships between various OB measures with gait measures and gait symmetry measures in OAs. Methods: A total of 30 OAs were included and categorized according to their body mass index (BMI) values into groups of persons with normal weight (NW), overweight (OW), and OB. Participants were required to complete an anthropometric assessment, a body composition assessment, and overground walking tests. Results: The group with OB had shorter swing phase, longer stance phase, and shorter single support phase than the NW group. Increased body weight, BMI, visceral adipose tissue mass, and android fat had correlations with shorter swing phase, longer stance phase, and shorter single support phase. Increased body weight and BMI had significantly positive correlations with symmetry index of knee range of motion. Conclusions: OB may impair gait automation capacity in OAs. Both body weight and BMI remain good measures in terms of establishing correlations with gait stability in OAs. However, the amount of fat mass surrounding the abdomen could be vital to interpreting the alterations in the gait of OAs with obesity.

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