Background: Sarcopenia, resulting from loss of muscle mass and function, is highly prevalent in the ageing societies and is associated with risk of falls, frailty, loss of independence, and mortality. It is important to identify environmental risk factors, so that evidence-based interventions to prevent sarcopenia can be implemented at the population level. This study aimed to examine the potential effect of several objectively measured neighborhood environmental factors on longitudinal change of muscle mass and function among older adults living in rural Japanese towns where the population is ageing. Methods: This study was based on data from the Shimane CoHRE Study conducted by the Center for Community-based Healthcare Research and Education (CoHRE) at Shimane University in 3 rural towns in the Shimane Prefecture, Japan. Subjects older than 60 years, who participated in an annual health examination in 2016 and any follow-up years until 2019, i.e., 4 possible time points in total, were included (n = 2526). The skeletal muscle mass index (SMI) and grip strength were assessed objectively for each year as a measure of muscle mass and function, respectively. Neighborhood environmental factors, i.e., hilliness, bus stop density, intersection density, residential density, and distance to a community center were measured by geographic information systems (GIS). Linear mixed models were applied to examine the potential effect of each neighborhood environmental factor on the change of SMI and grip strength over time. Results: Males living far from community centers had a less pronounced decline in SMI compared to those living close to community centers. Females living in areas with higher residential density had a less pronounced decline in grip strength compared to those living in areas with lower residential density. Conclusions: Neighborhood environmental factors had limited effects on change of SMI and grip strength among rural older adults within the 3 years follow up. Further long-term follow up studies are necessary by also taking into account other modifiable neighborhood environmental factors.
- Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi