Study Reviews

The omega-3 index appears to be associated with physical function in the elderly

  • 10/03/2018

A group of researchers from the University of Toulouse (France) recently published the results from a study whose aim was to analyse possible associations between omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status, measured using the omega-3 index, and physical function (measured using the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB)) in elderly adults living in society. To do this, they included 1,449 subjects (75.2 ± 4.4 years of age, 64.5% women) from among participants in the Multidomain Alzheimer's Disease Trial.  

The omega-3 index (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid content in red blood cell membranes) and SPPB score were measured on recruitment. This battery of tests in the SPPB is considered an objective measure of physical performance and is one of the most commonly used measures in research. It consists of three tests: balance, gait speed and standing and sitting from a chair five times. Longitudinal epidemiological studies have shown its capacity for predicting dependence, institutionalisation, hospitalisation and mortality.

Bivariant analyses revealed that participants in the lowest quartile of the omega-3 index had a significantly lower SPPB score than participants in the other three quartiles, i.e. participants with a low omega-3 index had a worse physical performance than the others. Although the data did not reach statistical significance after multiple linear regression adjusting for a number of variables (age, sex, body mass index and others), the finding is worth examining in future research.