Obesity and overweight linked to long-term health problems after traumatic brain injury

July 6, 2018, Wolters Kluwer Health

Especially at longer follow-up times, overweight and obesity are associated with chronic disease risks for survivors of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), reports a study in the July/August issue of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation (JHTR).

"Being obese or overweight presents a risk in the years following for TBI," according to the new research, led by Laura E. Dreer, Ph.D., of The University of Alabama at Birmingham. The findings highlight the need for a proactive approach to managing and related health conditions in long-term TBI survivors.

High Body Weight Linked to Health Problems after Acute Rehabilitation for TBI

The study included 7,287 adults with TBI who had undergone inpatient acute rehabilitation. Inpatient rehabilitation consists of intensive therapy, provided by a team of specialists, designed to improve physical and mental functioning. Care was provided by rehabilitation centers participating in the the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) program, sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

About three-fourths of patients were men; the average age was 46 years. The relationship between body weight and functional and health outcomes was assessed from one to 25 years after TBI. At the most recent follow-up, 23 percent of TBI survivors were classified as obese, 36 percent as overweight, 39 percent as normal weight, and three percent as underweight.

Overweight and obesity were less likely for patients under age 30, as well as those aged 80 years or older. While the percentage of overweight patients was relatively stable, the obesity rate increased over time—especially five years or longer after TBI.

Being overweight or obese was strongly associated with several chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart failure, and diabetes. Overweight/obese patients also rated themselves as having poorer general health. The frequency of seizures—a common problem among TBI survivors—was also related to differences in and health status.

The overall rate of overweight/obesity in the TBI patients (59 percent) was lower than reported in the general US population (over 70 percent). This may be attributed to several reasons in need of further examination—for example, a higher rate of health complications, rehospitalizations, medication side effects, or death among individuals who were already obese at the time of TBI and thus were excluded from the follow-up study.

"Achieving and maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity following a TBI are critical goals for recovery," Dr. Dreer and coauthors write. During the early recovery period, patients may lose weight due to increased metabolic rate and other physical effects of TBI. In the later phases, weight gain may occur due to a wide range of factors including medical conditions, medications, cognitive or behavioral changes, physical limitations, and lack of transportation or other resources.

Based on the large-scale TBIMS database, the new study confirms that being overweight or obese is associated with significant health problems for survivors of moderate to severe TBI who require acute rehabilitation. The researchers note some important limitations of their study, including the lack of information on the timing of weight problems and associated health conditions.

"However, these findings do highlight the potential importance of surveillance, prevention, and management of weight and related health conditions during the years postinjury," Dr. Dreer and colleagues conclude. "Lifestyle and health behaviors related to weight gain will need to be a component of any proactive approach to managing TBI as a chronic health condition."

Explore further: Heavy teens are less likely now to try and lose weight

More information: Laura E. Dreer et al, Obesity and Overweight Problems Among Individuals 1 to 25 Years Following Acute Rehabilitation for Traumatic Brain Injury, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation (2018). DOI: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000408

Related Stories

Heavy teens are less likely now to try and lose weight

June 25, 2018
(HealthDay)—The obesity epidemic among American teens is being fed by a waning desire to lose weight, a new report suggests.

The obesity paradox: People hospitalized for infections are twice as likely to survive if they are overweight or obese

May 25, 2018
A study of more than 18,000 patients in Denmark, presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, Austria (23-26), shows that patients admitted to hospital for treatment for any infectious disease are around ...

Provider counseling for weight loss up for arthritis, overweight

May 7, 2018
(HealthDay)—In 2014, health care provider counseling for weight loss for adults with arthritis and overweight or obesity was 45.5 percent, up 10.4 percent from 2002, according to research published in the May 3 issue of ...

Nationwide data shows that overweight and obese patients are less likely to die from sepsis in hospital than patient

May 25, 2018
Data from 3.7 million hospital admissions for sepsis from 1,000 US hospitals, presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, shows that patients who are overweight or obese are more likely to survive than ...

Central obesity ups mortality across BMI range

April 25, 2017
(HealthDay)—Central obesity is associated with increased risk of mortality even in normal-weight individuals, according to a study published online April 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Recommended for you

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.

Study suggests need to include overweight subjects in metabolic research

August 23, 2018
Children's Hospital Los Angeles investigators have demonstrated the need to include a growing constituency of obese and overweight children and adults in clinical research, with their study of a key marker for metabolism ...

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.