Depressed mood and body mass index as predictors of muscle strength decline in old men

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2000 Jun;48(6):613-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2000.tb04717.x.


Objective: To study depressed mood as a predictor of strength decline within body weight categories over a 3-year follow-up period.

Design: A prospective cohort study over 3 years.

Setting: Honolulu, Hawaii.

Participants: The subjects were 2275 men participating in the Honolulu Heart Program with an average age of 77.1 years (range 71-92 years), who were not cognitively impaired at baseline (Exam 4), and who participated in maximal hand grip strength measurements at baseline and 3 years later (Exam 5).

Measurements: Hand grip strength was measured using a dynamometer. Depressive symptoms were studied using an 11-item version of Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale with 9 as a cutoff. Body weight categories were formed on the basis of body mass index (BMI) (BMI = weight/height2; underweight: BMI < 20; normal weight: BMI 20-24.99, overweight: BMI > or = 25).

Main results: At baseline, 9.4% of the participants were rated as having depressed mood. The mean individual strength change over 3 years was - 6.9% (standard deviation 14.0). Steep strength decline was determined as losing > or = 14% (lowest quartile). The proportions of those with steep strength decline in the groups based on combined distributions of BMI and depressed mood were: underweight/ depressed (n = 22) 41%, underweight/not depressed (n = 200) 28%, normal weight/depressed (n = 127) 30%, normal weight/not depressed (n = 1181) 25%, overweight/depressed (n = 55) 31%, overweight/not depressed (n = 675, referent) 21%. After adjusting for baseline strength, age, height, sociodemographic variables and diseases, the odds ratio for steep strength decline was more than four times greater among those who were depressed and underweight, and twice as great among people who were depressed and normal weight compared with those who were nondepressed and overweight. The risks of nondepressed under- and normal weight people and depressed overweight people did not differ from the reference group.

Conclusions: Depressed mood was associated with increased risk of steep strength decline, in particular in older men with low body weight. Low body weight in combination with depressed mood may be an indicator of frailty or severe disease status that leads to accelerated strength loss and disability.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Frail Elderly* / psychology
  • Hand Strength*
  • Hawaii / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Weakness / epidemiology*
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology
  • Muscle Weakness / psychology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk