University of Oulu

Mikkola, T.M., Kautiainen, H., von Bonsdorff, M.B. et al. Body composition and changes in health-related quality of life in older age: a 10-year follow-up of the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study. Qual Life Res 29, 2039–2050 (2020).

Body composition and changes in health-related quality of life in older age : a 10-year follow-up of the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study

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Author: Mikkola, Tuija M.1,2; Kautiainen, Hannu1,3; von Bonsdorff, Mikaela B.1,4;
Organizations: 1Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland
2Clinicum, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Primary Health Care Unit, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
4Gerontology Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyvaskyla, Finland
5Public Health Promotion Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
6Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
7PEDEGO Research Unit, MRC Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University for Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
9Children’s Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
10Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, Singapore, Singapore
11Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-09-17


Purpose: Most studies examining the associations between body composition and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in older age have been cross-sectional and analyzed only fat or lean mass. Hence, it is poorly known whether fat and lean mass are independently associated with subsequent changes in HRQoL. We investigated whether baseline lean and fat mass are associated with changes in HRQoL over a 10-year period in older adults.

Methods: We studied 1044 men and women from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study (age 57–70 years at baseline). Bioelectrical impedance analysis was used to derive baseline fat mass index (FMI, fat mass/height²) and lean mass index (lean mass/height²), dichotomized at sex-specific medians. HRQoL was assessed using RAND 36-item Health Survey at baseline and follow-up 10 years later.

Results: When controlled for lean mass and adjusted for potential confounders, high baseline FMI was associated with a greater decline in general health (standardized regression coefficient [β] = − 0.13, p = 0.001), physical functioning (β = − 0.11, p = 0.002), role physical (β = − 0.13, p = 0.003), vitality (β = − 0.08, p = 0.027), role emotional (β = − 0.12, p = 0.007), and physical component score (β = − 0.14, p < 0.001). High baseline FMI was also associated with low HRQoL in all physical domains at baseline (β: from − 0.38 to − 0.10). Lean mass was not strongly associated with HRQoL at baseline or change in HRQoL.

Conclusion: In older community-dwelling adults, higher fat mass is, independent of lean mass, associated with lower physical HRQoL and greater decline in HRQoL. Prevention of adiposity may contribute to preservation of a good quality of life in older age.

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Series: Quality of life research
ISSN: 0962-9343
ISSN-E: 1573-2649
ISSN-L: 0962-9343
Volume: 29
Issue: 8
Pages: 2039 - 2050
DOI: 10.1007/s11136-020-02453-1
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Helsinki including Helsinki University Central Hospital. This work was supported by Emil Aaltonen Foundation; Finnish Foundation for Diabetes Research; Foundation for Pediatric Research, Novo Nordisk Foundation; Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation; Sigrid Jusélius Foundation; Samfundet Folkhälsan; Finska Läkaresällskapet; Liv och Hälsa; European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme (DORIAN, Grant Agreement No. 278603); and European Union Horizon 2020 programme (LifeCycle Grant No. 733206, DYNAHEALTH Grant No. 633595 and RECAP Grant No. SC1-2016-RTD-733180). The Academy of Finland supported EK (Grant Nos. 127437, 129306, 130326, 134791, 263924 and 274794); and J.G.E. (Grant Nos. 129369, 129907, 135072, 129255, and 126775).
EU Grant Number: (733206) LIFECYCLE - Early-life stressors and LifeCycle health
(633595) DYNAHEALTH - Understanding the dynamic determinants of glucose homeostasis and social capability to promote Healthy and active aging
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