Sarcopenic obesity is more closely associated with knee osteoarthritis than is nonsarcopenic obesity: a cross-sectional study

Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Dec;64(12):3947-54. doi: 10.1002/art.37696.


Objective: Sarcopenic obesity is a body composition category in which obesity is accompanied by low skeletal muscle mass, offsetting the increase in body weight caused by increased adipose tissue. The purpose of this study was to analyze the association between knee osteoarthritis (OA) and 4 different categories of body composition: normal, sarcopenic nonobesity, nonsarcopenic obesity, and sarcopenic obesity.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using the data from 2,893 participants in the Fifth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Radiographic knee OA was defined as a Kellgren/Lawrence grade of ≥2. Appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASM) and whole-body fat mass were measured using dual x-ray absorptiometry. Sarcopenia was defined as a skeletal muscle mass index (ASM/body weight [%]) below -2SD of the value in sex-matched young reference groups. Nonsarcopenic obesity was defined as a body mass index (BMI) ≥27.5 kg/m(2) .

Results: The prevalence of each body composition category was as follows: 83.5% normal, 4.3% sarcopenic nonobesity, 9.2% nonsarcopenic obesity, and 3.0% sarcopenic obesity. Compared with nonsarcopenic obesity participants, participants with sarcopenic obesity were significantly older, had lower ASM, higher whole-body fat mass, and higher waist circumference. However, there was no significant difference in body weight or BMI. In multivariate analysis, sarcopenic obesity was more closely associated with radiographic knee OA (OR 3.51 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 2.15-5.75]) than was nonsarcopenic obesity (OR 2.38 [95% CI 1.80-3.15]). Sarcopenic nonobesity showed no significant association with knee OA.

Conclusion: Sarcopenic obesity was more closely associated with knee OA than was nonsarcopenic obesity, although both groups had equivalent body weight. This finding supports the importance of the systemic metabolic effect of obesity in knee OA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / classification*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Republic of Korea
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist Circumference / physiology