Saturday, 6 September 2014

Childhood obesity is a risk factor for MS

How to get your children to lose weight? It is important as it may lower their risk of getting MS. #MSBlog #MSResearch

"We have previously posted on the association between obesity and MS risk. This case control study below, using body size silhouettes, confirms an association between obesity and MS risk in Norwegians, but not Italians. Why? Could this be due to low vitamin D levels? Obesity is linked to low vitamin D levels and hence obesity and MS risk may simply be an association. The fact that obesity was not linked to MS risk in Italy suggests vD may be the reason. Native Italians who live closer to equator, and hence get better sunlight exposure, have higher vD levels, which may protect them from getting MS."

"Interestingly the risk of an identical twin getting MS when one twin is affected is ~30% in Norway, but less than 10% in Italy. Again this observation may be due to different exposure(s) to environmental factors in Italy compared to Norway despite a similar genetic susceptibility. Obesity is also associated with changes in oestrogen levels, i.e. higher levels, and this may contribute to MS risk. At the end of the day childhood obesity is another thing to avoid, particularly if you have a family history of MS. My worry about this statement is that it is going make MSers with children anxious about their children's' weight."

"Obesity is something I need to add to my Holistic Approach to MS London Tube map analogy."

Epub: Wesnes et al. Body size and the risk of multiple sclerosis in Norway and Italy: The EnvIMS study.Mult Scler. 2014 Sep. pii: 1352458514546785.

BACKGROUND: Obesity may be a risk factor for developing MS.

OBJECTIVE: We examined if body size influences the risk of MS in a population-based, case control study. 

METHODS: A total of 953 cases and 1717 controls from Norway and 707 cases and 1333 controls from Italy reported their body size by choosing a silhouette 1 to 9 (largest) every fifth year from age 5 to 30 and at time of study. The body size-related MS risk was defined by odds ratios (ORs) in logistic regression analyses adjusting for age, smoking and outdoor activity.

RESULTS: In Norway a large body size (silhouettes 6-9) compared to silhouette 3 increased the risk of MS, especially at age 25 (OR 2.21; 95% CI 1.09-4.46 for men and OR 1.43; 95% CI 0.90-2.27 for women). When comparing silhouette 9 to 1, we found a significant dose-response from age 10 until age 30 peaking at age 25 (sex-adjusted OR 2.83; 95% CI 1.68-4.78). The association was present for at least 15 years prior to disease onset. No significant associations were found in Italy.

CONCLUSIONS: Obesity from childhood until young adulthood is a likely risk factor for MS with a seemingly stronger effect in Norway than in Italy.


  1. The Smokers, the drinkers, the fat ones.

    Now we have all usual suspect together. Could we please keep ideology out of this?

  2. My daughter has always been skinny. Still got MS as a child

  3. I was a seriously fat kid, so much so that my GP referred me to a dietician. At 15 I was 17.5 stones. I went on a diet, and by age 18 got down to 10 stones and became an avid exerciser. I came down with progressive MS at 27-years of age.

    There maybe truth to this theory. You have to live a good childhood to ensure a beneficial adulthood. Your life before adolescence is what will define your health. Parents must be responsible. They control the balance of power.

  4. I was a slim kid and I'm a slim adult. Perhaps this is a factor but for all.

  5. I am borderline underweight and have RRMS, age now 39. I have seen a dietician. I was normal weight as a child and lower end of normal weight as a teenager from around age 13.

  6. Hmm interesting, I can see a potential connection with reference to leptin and it-s inflammation. However, as I was a skinny kid/teenager and I'm a slim adult, it doesn't bear much relevance to why I have MS. But then I'm never been convinced, it's a one size fits all disease - rather MS is a syndrome with a few causes. For example I never had EBV, I've always been slim, I'm from a sunny country, where I spent my childhood. My mother was a total sun worshipper when pregnant with me. No one in my family as far as I know had/has MS. But yep I have MS.

  7. These are risk actors that you do something about,

    They are just risk actors and are not causal so you can be a slim, black, teetotal, smoke free, male and get MS and be a fat, white, smoked haddock, female scot and not get MS.

    The identified risk factor all have small influences on risk, but for some things at least you can do something about them to reduce risk..Also is it BMI the risk factor or cholesterol metabolism or ice cream, chemicals in pop.

  8. I have been reading that children and adults that are obese require more vitamin D. Obese adults may require as much as two or three times more vitamin D. Also obesity can cause vitamin D deficiency. Is this true?


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