Relationship between body mass index and different domains of disability in older persons: the 3C study

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Dec;28(12):1555-60. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802755.


Objective: To study the relationships between body mass index (BMI) and different domains of disability in elderly subjects from the French 3C study.

Setting: Three cities in France: Bordeaux (South-West), Dijon (North-East) and Montpellier (South-East).

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Subjects: A sample of 8966 elderly community dwellers (age: 65-101 y).

Main outcome measures: BMI, continence, basic and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (ADL and IADL) and mobility. Adjustment variables: age, educational level, lifestyle, cognitive functioning, smoking and drinking history, depression, dyspnea, diabetes and indicator of cardiovascular disease.

Results: Obesity (BMI> or =30 kg/m2) was significantly associated with disability in each domain for women. The relationship tended to be linear for ADL and for continence; whereas for IADL, underweight women (BMI <21 kg/m2) were also at higher risk of disability. In men, relationships were weaker since BMI was only associated with mobility restriction, with a higher risk for both underweight and obese subjects.

Conclusion: These results are in favor of a strong association between obesity and the three domains of disability and incontinence. Weaker relationships between underweight and disability were observed. Results suggest that maintaining a BMI in the healthy range could contribute to independence in activities of daily living.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Thinness / complications
  • Thinness / physiopathology
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology
  • Walking