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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Children's Health Channel
Reported January 31, 2013

Childhood Obesity and MS may be Linked


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – As childhood obesity rises, new research is showing that being obese may increase their risk of developing multiple sclerosis.  
"Over the last 30 years, childhood obesity has tripled," study author Annette Langer-Gould, MD, PhD, with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation in Pasadena, and member of the American Academy of Neurology, was quoted as saying.
Researchers identified 75 children and adolescents diagnosed with pediatric MS between ages two and 18.  Their body mass index (MBI) was obtained before symptoms started to appear.  These children were compared to 913,097 children who did not have MS and they were all grouped into weight classes of normal weight, overweight, moderate obesity, and extreme obesity.   A total of 50.6 percent of children with MS were overweight or obese, compared to 36.6 percent of the children who did not have MS.
“In our study, the risk of pediatric MS was highest among moderately and extremely obese teenage girls, suggesting that the rate of pediatric MS cases is likely to increase as the childhood obesity epidemic continues,” Dr. Langer-Gould said.
The study found that the risk of developing MS was more than 1.5 times higher for overweight girls than girls who were not overweight, 1.8 times higher in moderately obese girls compared to girls of normal weight, and four times higher in extremely obese girls.
"Even though pediatric MS remains rare, our study suggests that parents or caregivers of obese teenagers should pay attention to symptoms such as tingling and numbness or limb weakness, and bring them to a doctor's attention," Dr. Langer-Gould said.
SOURCE:  American Academy of Neurology, January 2013
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