Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 164

P06-144 - Gait Speed and Handgrip Strength in a Diverse Sample of Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objective: Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss, increases morbidity and mortality in older adults. Previous reports have identified higher prevalence of reduced muscle strength in Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites. Screening for muscle loss and functionality in diverse populations of older adults is needed to identify possible risk factors.


Methods: Independent, community-dwelling adults 60 years and older (n=166) were recruited from 10 congregate senior or adult learning centers in Bexar County, Texas. Bexar County has a large Hispanic population that may be at increased risk for functional limitations. Height, weight, timed-gait speed, handgrip strength, and demographics were collected as part of a protein supplement intervention aimed to maintain muscle mass and functionality. Multiple linear regression included age, BMI, ethnicity, sex, education as predictors of gait speed and handgrip strength. A chi-square test was used to determine differences in gait speed and handgrip strength by ethnicity.


Results: Participants were primarily female (n=142, 85.5%) and aged 60-96 (M=73, SD=7.5). Fifty-four percent of participants were obese (n=89), 29.5% were overweight (n=49), and 16.9% (n=28) were normal weight. Slow gait speed was found in 47.6% (n=79) of participants and 44.6% (n=74) had low handgrip strength. Of the 166 screened, 127 reported ethnicity and 74% were Hispanic/Latino. Low handgrip strength was found in 51.1% (n=48) of Hispanic/Latinos as compared to 27.3% (n=9) of non-Hispanic/Latinos (p=0.018). Slow gait speed was measured in 48.9% (n=46) in Hispanic/Latinos and 30.3% (n=10) in non-Hispanic/Latinos (p=0.064). Age (p=0.003) and BMI (p=0.008) were negatively correlated with gait speed. Male gender (p<0.001) and higher education (p=0.031) were positively correlated with handgrip strength. Ethnicity was not a significant predictor of gait speed (p=0.179) or hand grip strength (p=0.09).


Conclusions: Although ethnicity was not a significant predictor of gait speed or handgrip strength, over half of the Hispanic/Latinos screened had significantly low handgrip strength and almost half had slow gait speed. Further research needs to address targeted nutrition interventions after identifying older adults at risk for low muscle mass.



Funding Source: American Egg Board

CoAuthors: C. Austin Lobitz – University of Texas at San Antonio; Alejandra Santoyo – University of Texas at San Antonio; Krystle Zuniga, PhD, RDN – Texas State University-San Marcos

Sarah L. Ullevig

Assistant Professor
University of Texas at San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas