Research Insights

Increased body mass index associated with autonomic dysfunction in Parkinson

Parkinsonism & Related Disorders

Mochizuki H1, Taniguchi A2, Nakazato Y3, Ishii N4, Ebihara Y5, Sugiyama T6, Shiomi K7, Nakazato M8 Increased body mass index associated with autonomic dysfunction in Parkinson Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 2016 Mar;24:129-31. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2016.01.007. Epub 2016 Jan 9

Introduction:   There is inconsistent research regarding body mass index (BMI) in Parkinson’s disease (PD).  Some studies have found an increase while others have found a decrease.  Some postulates regarding decreased BMI in PD is related to the constant motor movements in PD causing increased expenditure of energy.  Another is PWP experience a reduction from decreased eating related to loss of smell that can be seen early in the disease.  These authors specifically wanted to look at the role of autonomic dysfunction as it relates to BMI in PWP.

Method:  One hundred and twenty four people with PD (PWP; 68 women, mean age 68, duration of PD 25 months, BMI 22.6) were studied across 6 years prior to taking medications for PD.  Each PWP was given two specific tests, one to measure parasympathetic and the other for sympathetic activity.  

Results:  The authors found that BMI was negatively correlated (as one goes up the other goes down) to the parasympathetic and sympathetic activity measured.  BMI was not found to be related to disease duration or severity.  PWP that had higher BMI also had lower sympathetic and parasympathetic activity.
Conclusion:  The authors concluded that their study showed that increased BMI was related to autonomic dysfunction in PWP.  They noted that when there was dysfunction in both the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems there was an increase in BMI for the PWP.  They also found that their sympathetic measurements showed that those with early stage PD had lower heart rates that also led to increased BMI.  This study showed that there may be multiple causative factors for increased and decreased BMI in PWP and that it is important for medical providers to consider such possibilities for treatment purposes.

Click here to read the abstract.


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