Association Between Obesity and Disease Progression in Multiple Sclerosis: Lars Alfredsson, PhD


The professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet talked about findings from a comprehensive study on the correlation between obesity and accelerated progression of multiple sclerosis. [WATCH TIME: 8 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 8 minutes

“We believe obesity is related to the poorest progression in [multiple sclerosis] but we cannot stay that for those who are overweight.”

Over the last decade, several global studies have demonstrated that early childhood and adolescent obesity are significant risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility. According to a review published in the Journal of Neurology and Neuromedicine, this association is highly confirmed in girls and there’s mixed evidence supporting the role of obesity and risk of MS in boys.1 Additionally, research has proposed that the interaction between increased body mass index (BMI) and genetic and environmental factors may impact MS susceptibility, as there is some evidence that established a causal relationship of these factors.

Presented at the 2024 Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) Forum, February 29 to March 2, in West Palm Beach, Florida, a new analysis on patients with MS from an incident population-based case-control study showed that a high BMI was associated with a faster disease progression, adding to the literature about the negative effects of poor weight control.2 Conducted by lead author Lars Alfredsson, PhD, and colleagues, patients were first classified according to their BMI status at diagnosis then followed up for up to 5 years postdiagnosis through the Swedish MS registry with data on changes in Expanded Disease Status Scale (EDSS) score, Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale 29, and Symbol Digit Modalities Test.

At the forum, Alfredsson, who serves as the professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, sat down with NeurologyLive® to discuss the key findings regarding the relationship between obesity and MS progression. He shared the strengths and weakness of the study, as well as how investigators addressed potential confounding factors. Furthermore, he spoke about the potential clinical implications of these findings for patients with MS and healthcare providers in the field.

Click here for more coverage of ACTRIMS 2024.

1. Gianfrancesco MA, Barcellos LF. Obesity and Multiple Sclerosis Susceptibility: A Review. J Neurol Neuromedicine. 2016;1(7):1-5. doi:10.29245/2572.942x/2016/7.1064
2. Alfredsson L, Wu J, Olsson T, A. Hedström. Obesity Negatively Affects Disease Progression, Cognitive Functioning, and Quality of Life in People With Multiple Sclerosis. Presented at ACTRIMS Forum 2024; February 29 to March 2; West Palm Beach, Florida. CE1.1.
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