Big Belly Ups Chances for RLS
Packing on the pounds ““ especially around the waistline ““ could be putting you at increased risk for restless legs syndrome (RLS).
In a study conducted among more than 65,000 women and more than 23,000 men, researchers found people considered obese (a body mass index over 30) were about one and a half times more likely to have the disorder. Those with the biggest waistlines were also about one and a half times more likely to have the condition when compared to those with the smallest waistlines.
RLS causes people to have uncontrollable urges to move their legs during the night and is a troublesome problem for about 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans, report the investigators. If their findings hold up to further study, losing weight might be one way to treat it.
“These results may be important since obesity is a modifiable risk factor that is becoming increasingly common in the U.S.,” study author Xiang Gao, M.D., Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, was quoted as saying. “More research is needed to confirm whether obesity causes RLS and whether keeping a low BMI score and small waist size could help prevent RLS.”
How might obesity lead to RLS? The investigators explain obesity fosters lower dopamine receptor levels in the brain, and these levels have also been associated with RLS. Dopamine, therefore, could be the link.
SOURCE: Neurology, published online April 6, 2009