Ethnic differences in physical performance in older Americans: Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994)

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Abstract

Background and aims: Impaired physical performance in older adults has been shown to vary by ethnic groups. The objective of this study is to examine ethnic differences in physical performance in older Americans. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis using a sample of 4456 non-institutionalized Americans aged 60 and above (2712 non-Hispanic Whites, 861 non-Hispanic Blacks and 883 Mexican Americans) from a large national representative survey (The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted in 1988-1994). Measurements included socio-demographic variables; self-reported physician diagnosed medical conditions, body mass index (BMI) and physical performance examination (tandem stand balance, timed chair stand, and timed 8-foot walk). Results: Of 4456 study participants, 60.9% (n=2712) subjects were non-Hispanic white, 19.3% (n=861) were non-Hispanic black, and 19.8% (n=853) were Mexican American. About 35% (n=1573) of subjects could not hold the tandem balance test for 10 seconds. Older age, diabetes, stroke and arthritis were significantly associated with decreased performance on the balance test. Older age, female gender, being Mexican American or non-Hispanic black, hip fracture and high BMI were significantly associated with decreased performance on 8-foot walking test, while older age, female gender, being non-Hispanic black, low education, stroke, cancer, arthritis and high BMI were significantly associated with decreased performance on the chair stand test. Conclusions: With some ethnic variation, older age, female gender, being non-Hispanic black, being Mexican American, low education, high BMI, diabetes, stroke, cancer and arthritis were associated with decreased physical performance in elderly Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-144
Number of pages6
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Keywords

  • Elderly
  • Ethnicity
  • NHANES III
  • Physical performance
  • Predictive factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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