A new study has linked obesity in girls with greater chances of developing multiple sclerosis or another similar MS illness.
Researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Children’s health study reviewed body mass index (BMI) data from more than 900,000 children and found that 75 individuals in the group, between the ages of 2 and 18, were diagnosed with pediatric MS.
The surprising link was that over 50-percent were overweight or obese, and girls. The study concluded that a risk of MS is almost two times higher in moderately obese girls and a whopping four times higher for extremely obese girls.
MS is a chronic, debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system and can see a patient wheelchair bound within as little as 5-years in extreme cases. And even though Dr. Tanuja Chitnis, a neurologist and pediatric MS specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, points out that a decade ago MS was not seen as a risk for children—studies such as this one support the fact that obesity is linked to MS development in kids, particularly girls.
“There are an increasing number of diseases associated with obesity… particularly early obesity and it’s an important risk factor to try to mitigate… do something about,” she says.
Dr. Annette Langer-Gould, a neurologist and regional MS expert for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California says that even though an underlying biological reason still has not been linked to obesity and MS in young girls, “the study findings support that fact that the rate of pediatric MS cases are likely to increase as the childhood obesity epidemic continues.”