Do multiple sclerosis and obesity share any factors in common? While these two conditions might appear mutually exclusive at first glance, medical science has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few decades. There are now many conditions which can be influenced by a nigh body mass index (BMI) and more are being discovered on a frequent basis.
To understand how obesity may impact multiple sclerosis, it is first practical to describe the fundamental symptoms of this condition. We can then move on to discuss the potential correlation with excess bodyweight.
What is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (often abbreviated as MS) is a chronic disease that primarily affects the brain and spinal cord. It can therefore have a profound impact upon functions associated with the central nervous system. Some common symptoms include mobility problems that become worse over time, poor vision, numbness and or tingling in the extremities, difficulty with balance, and in severe cases, permanent disability.
While the underlying causes and risk factors associated with multiple sclerosis are still being researched, it has been shown that women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with MS when compared to men. Furthermore, those of Northern European descent also tend to develop multiple sclerosis at a higher rate. It is therefore clear that genetics seem to play a role.
Obesity and multiple sclerosis often share a causal relationship for several reasons. Before we discuss this topic, it is wise to address who might be at a greater risk of becoming overweight.
What are the Four "M's" of Obesity?
There are many discrete factors that can determine the chances of one becoming obese over time. A growing number of professionals have adopted a socioeconomic approach in order to provide more targeted diagnoses at an early stage. This framework is often referred to as the “four m’s” of obesity and these can be briefly described as follows:
- Mental health.
- Mechanical or mobility issues.
- Monetary concerns.
Assuming that obesity and multiple sclerosis share at least a tentative causal link, it is important to address both sides of the equation.
Does Obesity Cause Multiple Sclerosis?
At the time that this article was written, there was no direct evidence that obesity actually leads to multiple sclerosis. However, those who have a higher body mass index are prone to inflammatory problems, one of the conditions thought to lead to a higher risk of MS.
Some studies have likewise indicated that overweight children are much more prone to develop multiple sclerosis later in life. Evidence suggests that this risk factor may be as high as 20 per cent when compared to children of an average weight.
Does multiple sclerosis make you gain weight and if so, what effects can this have? While obesity might not always cause the symptoms attributed to multiple sclerosis, MS can certainly lead to increased weight gain and therefore, a host of other issues.
For instance, overweight individuals are less likely to remain physically active. It has been shown that physical activities (even simple actions such as walking or mild stretching) can have a beneficial effect upon many MS-related complications. Evidence likewise suggests that unhealthy body mass indices may cause more frequent relapses and accelerate the speed at which the symptoms of MS progress. Thus, disability could become much more of a reality.
The Beneficial Effects of Reducing Your Body Mass Index
The relationship between multiple sclerosis and obesity should now be relatively clear. So, what if you decide to lose weight? Can leading a healthier lifestyle actually help manage your MS side effects?
There is little doubt that reducing your body mass index (even if by only a few percentage points) will have a noticeable impact upon the severity and frequency of your symptoms. However, it is also responsible to point out that such changes are not intended to cure the illness itself. There are nonetheless additional benefits that you can expect to enjoy such as:
- Improved muscular strength.
- Higher bone density.
- Better balance and coordination.
- Mental clarity and increased motivation.
While there is currently no cure for MS, enacting positive lifestyle changes and managing your weight are both excellent strategies to consider. Thankfully, the Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon can provide unparalleled assistance if you are currently struggling with a tough dietary regimen. Why not break the cycle between obesity and multiple sclerosis? The power is in your hands!