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Body Composition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults Before and After SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Longitudinal Prospective Study in a Rural Village Struck by the Pandemic

  • Del Brutto, Oscar H.1
  • Mera, Robertino M.2
  • Rumbea, Denisse A.3
  • Pérez, Pedro4
  • Recalde, Bettsy Y.3
  • Sedler, Mark J.5
  • 1 Universidad Espíritu Santo – Ecuador, Samborondón, Ecuador
  • 2 Biostatistics/Epidemiology, Freenome, Inc., South San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 3 Community Center, The Atahualpa Project, Atahualpa, Ecuador
  • 4 Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai Morningside, New York, NY, USA
  • 5 Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, New York, NY, USA
Published Article
Journal of Primary Care & Community Health
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Sep 29, 2021
DOI: 10.1177/21501327211047781
PMID: 34583573
PMCID: PMC8485270
PubMed Central
  • Original Research


Background: Information on the body composition of inhabitants of remote communities during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is limited. Using a longitudinal population-based study design, we assessed the association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and changes in body composition. Methods: Community-dwelling older adults living in a rural Ecuadorian village received body composition determinations before and 1 year after the pandemic as well as serological tests for detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The independent association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and abnormalities in body composition at follow-up was assessed by fitting linear mixed models for longitudinal data. Results: Of 327 enrolled individuals, 277 (85%) received baseline and follow-up body composition determinations, and 175 (63%) of them became SARS-CoV-2 seropositive. Overall, diet and physical activity deteriorated during the follow-up. Multivariate random-effects generalized least squares regression models that included the impact of time and seropositivity on follow-up body composition, showed that neither variable contributed to a worsening in body composition. Multivariate logistic regression models disclosed that the serological status at follow-up cannot be predicted by differences in body composition and other baseline covariates. Conclusions: Study results suggest no increased susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection among older adults with abnormal body composition and no significant changes as a result of worse physical activity and dietary habits or seropositivity during the length of the study. Together with a previous study in the same population that showed decrease in hand-grip strength after SARS-CoV-2, results confirm that dynapenia (and not sarcopenia) is associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in older adults.

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