Poor muscle health in people with obesity could increase early death risk

Credit: Unsplash+

Recent findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, Italy, reveal a crucial connection between muscle health and the risk of early death among people with obesity.

A Swedish study analyzing UK residents found that those with poor muscle composition were up to three times more likely to die prematurely compared to those with healthier muscles.

Dr. Jennifer Linge, from AMRA Medical in Linköping, Sweden, highlighted the study’s capacity to predict mortality risks based on muscle condition.

“By examining muscle composition, we can identify which obese individuals are at higher risk of dying in the upcoming years,” she explained.

The concern for muscle health is increasing as new weight loss medications enable people to shed significant weight, comparable to results typically seen with surgical interventions.

These advancements bring into question the potential negative effects on muscle health, such as substantial muscle mass reduction and decreased mobility.

Although people with obesity generally carry more muscle mass, their muscles tend to be weaker, have lower quality, and their mobility is often impaired.

The importance of evaluating both the quantity and quality of muscles is becoming evident, especially when considering rapid weight loss treatments.

This is particularly vital for vulnerable groups, like those with sarcopenic obesity or older adults, as rapid weight loss might not always be safe.

Earlier research using MRI techniques has established a link between poor muscle health and reduced physical capabilities, such as weaker grip strength, slower walking speeds, difficulty in climbing stairs, and a higher propensity for falls.

These studies have shown that bad muscle health correlates with increased illness and mortality not only in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) but also in the general population. However, data on people with obesity has been scarce.

To bridge this gap, Dr. Linge and her team used a software tool called AMRA Researcher to analyze MRI scans from 56,109 participants in the UK Biobank study.

They measured muscle volume and muscle fat content, creating a personalized muscle volume z-score for each participant to compare their muscle volume against average values for their sex and body size.

Participants were grouped based on their muscle conditions: normal muscle composition, high muscle fat only, low muscle volume z-score only, or adverse muscle composition (both high muscle fat and low muscle volume z-score). Of the 9,840 participants with obesity, 2,001 had adverse muscle composition.

Over an average follow-up of 3.9 years, 174 participants died, primarily from heart-related diseases.

The study found that having either a low muscle volume z-score or high muscle fat alone did not significantly increase death risk. However, having adverse muscle composition substantially increased the likelihood of dying.

Even after adjusting for factors like muscle strength, other illnesses, and lifestyle choices, the link between poor muscle health and higher mortality remained significant.

Those with adverse muscle composition were 70% more likely to face early death compared to those with normal muscle health.

Factors such as sex, age, diabetes, and smoking also correlated with higher mortality risks.

Dr. Linge emphasized the significance of maintaining muscle health in individuals with obesity, stating, “It’s crucial to determine whether weight loss drugs are causing excessive muscle loss or worsening muscle quality, to ensure safer obesity treatment options, particularly for those at greater risk.”

If you care about weight loss, please read studies that avocado could help you lose weight and belly fat, and a keto diet for weight loss can cause flu-like symptoms.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.