Is there a BMI Threshold Value Associated with a Lower Physical Capacity in Well-Functioning Older Adults? The Quebec Longitudinal Study

Danielle R. Bouchard*, 1, 2, Isabelle J. Dionne1, 2, Hélène Payette1, 3, Martin Brochu1, 2
1 Research Centre on Aging, Health and Social Services Centre- Sherbrooke University Institute of Geriatrics, Quebec, Canada
2 Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
3 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

© 2009 Bouchard et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Centre de recherche sur le vieillissement, Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Sherbrooke, 1036, rue Belvédère Sud, Sherbrooke (Québec), J1H 4C4, Canada; Tel: (819) 821- 1150 #45303/45326; Fax: (819) 829-7141; E-mail:



Identify a body mass index (BMI) threshold above which physical capacity would be significantly affected.


This study included 904 physically independent older individuals aged between 67 and 84 years old. Measures were: BMI, physical capacity score (PCS) computed according to five lower extremity physical tests, sum of reported chronic conditions and physical activity level.


When subjects were divided in 10 BMI groups, no clear threshold was identified in men since the PCS was only significantly decreased in the heaviest group, which correspond to a BMI of >34.5 kg/m. In women, a BMI of 30.5 kg/m was identified as the threshold above which the PCS was significantly decreased compared with the reference group.


Although no clear BMI threshold was identify in older men, a BMI of 30.5 kg/m in women was associated with a significantly lower physical capacity.

Keywords: Aging, body composition, BMI critical value, mobility.