Obesity May Cause Neurological Disorder

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Obesity May Cause Neurological Disorder

New research has confirmed that as many as 10 percent of Americans suffer from a neurological disorder that may be brought on by obesity.

Several studies by Harvard School of Public Health in Boston have confirmed that being obese at least highly raises the risk of developing Restless Legs Syndrome, also known as RLS.

The disorder causes an irresistible urge to move the legs. It’s characterized by unusual, sometimes painful or tingling sensations in the legs.

These sensations may disappear during physical activity, but they often return while at rest. The sensations also often set in most heavily during sleep – making RLS a sleep disorder.

The Harvard researchers examined more than 85,000 men and women and found that obese people with a body mass index of 30 or more were 42 percent more likely to have RLS than people of a more normal weight. The direct correlation between obesity and this disorder has not been confirmed, but some research suggests that a shortage of the brain chemical dopamine may be part of the cause.

And those who are obese tend to have lower dopamine levels. Past treatments of RLS have included drugs that raise this level. The study also found that those who gain weight from early adulthood into middle age had a high tendency to develop RLS later in life.

The disorder can begin at any age, but a consensus panel of the National Institutes of Health notes that symptoms typically begin around age 40.

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