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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 826398, 7 pages
Research Article

Sarcopenic Obesity and Cognitive Functioning: The Mediating Roles of Insulin Resistance and Inflammation?

Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0191, USA

Received 5 November 2011; Revised 31 January 2012; Accepted 15 February 2012

Academic Editor: Fabio Coppedè

Copyright © 2012 M. E. Levine and E. M. Crimmins. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study examined the influence of insulin resistance and inflammation on the association between body composition and cognitive performance in older adults, aged 60–69 and aged 70 and older. Subjects included 1127 adults from NHANES 1999–2002. Body composition was categorized based on measurements of muscle mass and waist circumference as sarcopenic nonobese, nonsarcopenic obese, sarcopenic obese, and normal. Using OLS regression models, our findings suggest body composition is not associated with cognitive functioning in adults ages 60–69; however, for adults aged 70 and over, sarcopenia and obesity, either independently or concurrently, were associated with worse cognitive functioning relative to non-sarcopenic non-obese older adults. Furthermore, insulin resistance accounted for a significant proportion of the relationship between cognitive performance and obesity, with or without sarcopenia. Additionally, although high CRP was significantly associated with poorer cognitive functioning in adults ages 60–69, it did not influence the association between body composition and cognitive performance. This study provides evidence that age-related physiological maladaptations, such as metabolic deregulation, which are associated with abdominal fat, may simultaneously contribute to lower cognition and muscle mass, reflecting a degradation of multiple physiological systems.