Obesity linked to increased risk of multiple sclerosis

June 28, 2016, Public Library of Science
This is an image of a weight scale. Credit: CDC/Debora Cartagena

Individuals who are obese in early adulthood face a heightened risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to new research conducted by Dr. Brent Richards of the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital, Quebec, Canada and colleagues, published in PLOS Medicine. This result provides further confirmation of previous observational studies that had suggested the existence of such a link. MS is a progressive neurological disorder which can lead to disability and death, involving damage to the myelin which surrounds nerves in the spinal cord and brain. Causes of the disease are poorly understood, although immune-mediated mechanisms are likely. Currently available treatments have only modest effects on the disease and its symptoms, which underlines the importance of identifying preventive measures.

The team, comprised of researchers in Canada and the UK, and led by Lauren Mokry, carried out a Mendelian randomization study in large population datasets to investigate whether genetically determined was associated with increased risk of MS. Such a study decreases the probability that exposures linked to obesity, such as smoking, can explain the findings. They found that a change in body mass index from overweight to obese (equivalent to an average size adult woman increasing in weight from 150 to 180 pounds) was associated with an increase of about 40% in the risk of MS.

"These findings may carry important public health implications because of the high prevalence of obesity in many countries" note the authors in their research article; "[because the] median age of onset for MS is 28-31 years ... [these findings should provide motivation] to combat increasing youth obesity rates by implementing community and school-based interventions that promote physical activity and nutrition."

In a Perspective discussing the research, Alberto Ascherio and Kassandra L. Munger note that, factoring in earlier research, Richards and colleagues' study "suggest[s] that obesity in early life is indeed causally related to risk and provide[s] a further rationale for obesity prevention."

Explore further: Women born to obese mothers much more likely to be obese as adults

More information: Lauren E. Mokry et al. Obesity and Multiple Sclerosis: A Mendelian Randomization Study, PLOS Medicine (2016). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002053

Related Stories

Women born to obese mothers much more likely to be obese as adults

June 9, 2016
Overweight mothers were nearly three times more likely than normal-weight mothers to have a daughter who would become obese as an adult, a large study has found.

Genetic study finds association between reduced vitamin D and multiple sclerosis risk

August 25, 2015
Genetic findings support observational evidence that lower vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a new research article by Brent Richards, from McGill University, Canada, ...

SORLA controls insulin signaling to promote obesity in mice

June 20, 2016
Large-scale genetic studies have linked variations in genes and proteins to an increased risk for developing obesity. Determining how these variations alter metabolism to increase body mass may lead to the identification ...

Pre-pregnancy obesity increases odds of having overweight children

April 25, 2016
A new Kaiser Permanente study, published in Pediatric Obesity, found that pre-pregnancy obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of the child becoming overweight at age 2. The ...

How much you weigh as a teenager is linked to your risk of heart failure in middle age

June 17, 2016
Research that followed more than 1.6 million Swedish men from adolescence onwards between 1968 and 2005 has shown that those who were overweight as teenagers were more likely to develop heart failure in early middle age.

Your weight as a teenager is linked to your risk of heart failure in early middle age

June 16, 2016
Research that followed more than 1.6 million Swedish men from adolescence onwards between 1968 and 2005 has shown that those who were overweight as teenagers were more likely to develop heart failure in early middle age.

Recommended for you

Overweight pregnant women can safely cut calories, restrict weight gain

September 24, 2018
Being obese or overweight during pregnancy can result in serious health problems for the mother and child. Obstetricians are often reluctant to recommend restricted weight gain for pregnant women due to safety concerns for ...

Young children's oral bacteria may predict obesity

September 19, 2018
Weight gain trajectories in early childhood are related to the composition of oral bacteria of two-year-old children, suggesting that this understudied aspect of a child's microbiota—the collection of microorganisms, including ...

Rethinking an inflammatory receptor's obesity connection

September 12, 2018
Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is a protein that plays a vital role in the body's immune response by sensing the presence of infection. It has long been thought to also sense particular types of fats, which suggested a mechanism ...

Rising European life expectancy undermined by obesity: WHO

September 12, 2018
Life expectancy in Europe continues to increase but obesity and the growing proportion of people who are overweight risks reversing this trend, the World Health Organization warned Wednesday.

Brief sleep intervention works long-term to prevent child obesity

September 6, 2018
When it comes to obesity prevention, sleep is not usually something that springs to mind, but a University of Otago research team has found we should not underestimate its importance.

Researchers develop more accurate measure of body fat

August 27, 2018
Cedars-Sinai investigators have developed a simpler and more accurate method of estimating body fat than the widely used body mass index, or BMI, with the goal of better understanding obesity.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.