Obesity and multiple sclerosis — what’s the relationship? January 5, 2009Posted by Rebecca Hoover in Diet - the right diet for MS, what you need to eat, Exercise - why you need it and what you need.
Studies show that obesity at age 18 greatly increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) and obesity is what doctors call a comorbidity, a health problem that coexists with another condition. Obesity not only may help cause MS, it also complicates MS. The MS problems presented by obesity are another reason to start and put the whole family on the type of ultra healthy diet needed by those with MS. I recommend following the Swank MS Diet discussed elsewhere with the updates recommended by Dr. George Jelinek, a medical professor.
In November 2009, Neurology, the leading journal for neurologists in the United States, published the results of a study that reviewed the presence or absence of MS in more than 200,000 women. The study found that women who were obese at age 18 were 2.25 times more likely to develop MS than women who were not obese. Women who were obese at age 20 were almost two times more likely to later develop MS. Interestingly, however, obesity and ages 5, 10 and during later adulthood was not correlated with increased risk of MS onset. This does not mean, however, that those with MS can ignore the weight issue. Unfortunately, studies show that obesity, when combined with MS, makes MS a difficult disease.
First, research shows that obesity makes diagnosis of MS more difficult and delays diagnosis of MS. Because obesity can be frequently accompanied by numbness, for example, doctors may guess that a patient’s numbness is the result of obesity rather than MS. The delay in diagnosis of MS is problematic, however, because the delay means a delay in treatment of MS.
Second, obesity makes coping with MS more difficult. While obese MS patients need exercise and a healthy diet more than most to prevent heart disease, this exercise requires extra effort. If MS patients are obese, they need extra encouragement to reduce weight and get needed aerobic exercise. Addressing obesity is important because research shows that obese MS patients are more likely to experience moderate rather than mild disability early after diagnosis.
It is especially important to note that the same diet that can lead to obesity, also probably makes MS worse. Studies show that eating diets high in saturated fats is likely to make MS worse while eating healthy fats and a healthy diet seems to improve outcomes. Eating right is important for everyone — it is doubly important for those with MS. Please see my post about eating right for more information. This is so important that more than one professor of medicine has taken the time to write a book largely devoted to describing just what a healthy diet for MS patients means. I follow this advice that is based on scientific research and I recommend you do the same.
If you have MS or think you might have MS and are overweight, the sooner you address physical fitness the healthier you will be. Please read the post on eating healthy and check out the Swank MS Diet. The next thing, you know you will be feeling better than you have felt in years. And you will be looking gorgeous too — healthy eating and living do that for you.
Please let me know if you find my blog helpful. Please add a comment. What did you like? What would you like added? Thanks! Together we can change the way the world views MS. Please also join the Intelligent Guide to MS page on Facebook. I will use that page to make timely posts on new research and other issues likely to be of interest to others.
Please remember to consult with your doctors about how to stay as healthy as possible. Nothing here should be interpreted as medical advice. Instead, please use the information you find here in your discussions with your doctor.
Copyright 2008 Rebecca Hoover
Tags: Multiple Sclerosis, MS, Obesity, Diet, Exercise