Health risks associated with obesity have been known for years, particularly the increased risks of developing heart disease and cancer along with other long-term diseases. New research now shows that obesity can also increase your risk of developing neurological diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease in which the protective coating around nerve fibers breaks down slowing signals and raveling between the brain and body. It affects 400,000 Americans every year.
While this research, presented in the journal Neurology, does not prove that carrying extra weight when you’re younger will cause MS, the findings suggest that rising levels of obesity in children could lead to an increase in MS diagnoses when compared to the number of cases reported in the past, according to Annette Langer-Gould from Kaiser Permanete of Southern California.
Langer-Gould and her colleagues compared heights and weights of 75 young people with pediatric MS and clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), which is a possible MS precursor, and over 900,000 children without either disease.
“Our findings suggest that childhood obesity epidemic is likely to lead to increased morbidity from MS/CIS, particularly in adolescent girls,” Langer-Gould and her colleagues wrote.
A little over half of the young people with MS were overweight or obese compared to 37 percent of the other children.
Kassandra Munger, who studies MS at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston (not involved in this study), suggests the possibility of deficient vitamin levels and a greater amount of chemicals secreted by fat cells as to why overweight children and adolescents could have an increased risk of MS.
Langer-Gould and her colleagues are continuing to track the children in their study and they are also working on researching whether adulthood weight affects their chance of developing MS.
If you or someone you know has any symptoms of MS such as tingling and numbness or limb weakness, be sure to bring it to the attention of a doctor. Weight-loss reduces your risk of many serious diseases and could increase the quality and length of your life. FirstHealth Bariatric Center provides weight-loss surgery and support to patients in the Pinehurst, Raeford, Sanford, Lumberton, Laurinburg, Rockingham, and Troy regions of North Carolina and beyond.