Body Composition and Falls Risk in Older Adults

  • Cecilia Xu
  • Peter R. Ebeling
  • David ScottEmail author
Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation (O Addison, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation


Purpose of Review

To explore evidence for associations between body composition and falls in older adults and interventions that may reduce falls through improving body composition.

Recent Findings

Both sarcopenia (low skeletal muscle mass, strength and quality) and obesity appear to increase falls risk, but relationships with falls-related injury may differ. Nevertheless, perceptions of obesity as a protective factor for fractures have been challenged in recent years. Emerging research suggests that combined entities such as sarcopenic obesity also increase risk of falls, although effects of conditions such as osteosarcopenic obesity are yet to be determined. While lifestyle interventions targeting physical function reduce falls risk, it is unclear whether changes in body composition alone are beneficial.


Obesity and sarcopenia are important risk factors for falls in older adults. Further research is required to clarify the effects of combined conditions on falls and to evaluate whether improved body composition directly prevents falls.


Body composition Falls Fracture Sarcopenia Sarcopenic obesity Osteosarcopenic obesity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Cecilia Xu, Peter R. Ebeling and David Scott each declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash HealthMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Austin HealthHeidelbergAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Medicine and Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science, Melbourne Medical School – Western CampusThe University of MelbourneSt AlbansAustralia

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