The relationship between increased body mass index and frailty on falls in community dwelling older adults

Type Article

Journal Article


K. J. Sheehan; M. D. O'Connell; C. Cunningham; L. Crosby; R. A. Kenny

Year of publication



BMC Geriatr







BACKGROUND: The global population is becoming older and more overweight. The inter-relationship between frailty and falls is often seen in the older adult and is associated with poor health outcomes. Little is known about this relationship for those with excess body mass. This study aimed to assess the relationships between BMI, frailty and falls. METHODS: Frailty, body mass index, clinical and demographic characteristics were assessed at baseline for 606 community dwelling adults aged 60 years and older. Falls were assessed prospectively with a semi-structured telephone interview two years later. RESULTS: An increase in BMI contributed significantly to the identification of frail (Odds Ratio: 4.4; 95% Confidence Interval: 1.4, 13.6) older adults. A total of 346 falls by 148 participants were reported at follow up. Those with an increased BMI were significantly less likely to have experienced a fall between baseline and follow up assessments (p = 0.03). Despite these opposing trends a BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 kg.m2 did not alter the relationship between falls and frailty for the current cohort. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to assess the falls-frailty relationship for those with an increased BMI. Obesity was found to be protective against falling but not specifically in frail older adults.