Poor sleep patterns were associated with loss of muscle strength, increased body fat, more anxiety and depression, and increased body mass in the legs and arms of older individuals with obesity, according to researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil. The researchers found that individuals who sleep well did not experience similar patterns.
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The press release noted that older individuals with obesity have increased worldwide in recent periods, but in Brazil specifically, obesity rates have risen 2.34% per year. Obesity rose the most among the older population aged 70 to 79 years, including both men and women.
“We have a perfect storm: aging of the population and rising obesity among the elderly, many of whom frequently suffer from poor sleep quality, loss of muscle strength and mass, and mental health problems. It’s also important to bear in mind that sleep quality is a critical health factor for the general population,” said Hamilton Roschel, nutritionist, clinical exercise physiologist, and professor at USP.
The study included 95 volunteers aged 65 years and older, both men and women. The individuals completed a sleep quality questionnaire (PSQI) along with a general health questionnaire that focused on anxiety, depression, and quality of life. Prior to the completion of the general health questionnaire, individuals were separated into 2 categories based on PSQI score 46 individuals had good sleep patterns and 49 had bad patterns.
“We found that the poor sleepers had worse physical and mental health, with less vitality, more muscle pain, and impaired physical and mental functions. They had more body fat, less lean fat, and less muscle strength. Their anxiety, depression and quality of life scores were also worse,” Roschel said.
The press release noted the importance of sleep quality for older individuals in general, along with how impactful it is for individuals with obesity. The researchers found the linkage between how aging obesity causes anabolic response and glucose metabolism with the adverse effects of aging on sleep disorders.
Roschel noted that in Brazil, the confirmation of older obese individuals at higher risk of worse outcomes will lead to the right care to mitigate health deterioration.
In the future, the researchers will release findings from the longitudinal study that will introduce lifestyle therapies to avoid unwanted outcomes, like loss of muscle mass and body fat gain.
Perfect storm: Poor sleep quality worsens health problems in obese older people, study shows. EurekAlert!. News release. October 10, 2023. Accessed October 16, 2023. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1004249.