Obese Children More Likely To Develop MS

Child stand on scale
Child stand on scale | Image by Dimmo/Shutterstock

A recent study by researchers in Sweden argues that obese children are at a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

The study is slated to be presented in May at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, per reporting by The Guardian. The latest findings add to the growing body of academic literature on the health risks obese children face, as reported by The Dallas Express.

The researchers examined data compiled through the Swedish Childhood Obesity Treatment Register, which contains data on Swedish children added to the registry between 1995 and 2020 when they were between the ages of two and 19. Researchers used data from around 100,000 children, of which 21,600 were treated for obesity.

In total, 28 obese children developed MS, while 58 children in the non-obese group developed the disease. Researchers show that 0.13% of the obese group developed MS against 0.06% in the other group.

The study’s authors, Emilia Hagman and Claude Marcus, said that the evidence suggests obesity causes low-grade but chronic inflammation.

“It is also believed that chronic low-grade inflammation increases the risk for other such diseases as asthma, arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and some forms of cancers. However, we know that weight loss reduces the inflammation and most likely the risk [of developing] such diseases.”

Texas has a particularly big problem with childhood obesity. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Texas ranks the eighth-highest in the nation for childhood obesity out of all 50 states. The State of Childhood Obesity report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 20.3% of children ages 10-17 were classified as obese in 2019-20.

Childhood obesity has been linked to the development of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and numerous other life-threatening ailments, according to the National Health Institute.

“Until recently, many of the above health conditions had only been found in adults; now they are extremely prevalent in obese children,” the authors of a research paper on the causes and consequences of obesity wrote in 2015. “Although most of the physical health conditions associated with childhood obesity are preventable and can disappear when a child or adolescent reaches a healthy weight, some continue to have negative consequences throughout adulthood.”

Treatment for childhood obesity requires a family approach, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“The methods for maintaining your child’s current weight or losing weight are the same: Your child needs to eat a healthy diet — both in terms of type and amount of food — and increase physical activity. Success depends largely on your commitment to helping your child make these changes,” a guide on the website reads.

The clinic adds that in some instances when diet and exercise are not effective, medications or surgery may be necessary.

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