Use of structural models to elucidate the occurrence of falls among older adults according to abdominal obesity: a cross-sectional study

Sao Paulo Med J. 2023 Jan-Feb;141(1):51-59. doi: 10.1590/1516-3180.2021.0738.R1.07042022.


Background: Obesity is a risk factor for falls in older adults, but the effects of body fat distribution and its interaction with other factors are not well established.

Objectives: To verify the occurrence of falls among older adults with and without abdominal obesity and the effects of sociodemographic, health, and behavioral variables on this outcome.

Design and setting: A cross-sectional study in an urban area of Alcobaça, Brazil.

Methods: Men and women older than 60 years with (270) and without (184) abdominal obesity were included. Sociodemographic, health, and behavioral data were collected using validated questionnaires in Brazil. Descriptive and path analyses were performed (P < 0.05).

Results: The occurrence of falls was high in participants with abdominal obesity (33.0%). In both groups, a higher number of morbidities (β = 0.25, P < 0.001; β = 0.26, P = 0.002) was directly associated with a higher occurrence of falls. Among participants without abdominal obesity, a lower number of medications (β = -0.16; P = 0.04), a higher number of depressive symptoms (β = 0.15; P = 0.04), worse performance on the agility and dynamic balance tests (β = 0.37; P < 0.001), and lower functional disability for basic activities of daily living (β = -0.21; P = 0.006) were directly associated with the occurrence of falls.

Conclusion: Adults older than 60 years with abdominal obesity have a higher prevalence of falls. Different factors were associated with the occurrence of falls in both groups.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Structural
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity, Abdominal* / complications
  • Obesity, Abdominal* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors