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Obesity May Increase Risk of Fibromyalgia

Posted Jun 14 2010 7:09pm

bmi chart

BMI Chart

According to a new study, women who are overweight or obese, and particularly those who do not exercise at all or exercise for less than an hour a week, have an increased risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Dr. Phil Mork and his team reviewed data from the Nord-Trondelag Health (HUNT) Study. The first HUNT study (HUNT1) was conducted in 1984 to 1986. HUNT2 was conducted from 1995 to 1997. In the 11 years of data, there were 380 new cases of fibromyalgia identified among the 15,990 women.

The researchers used the body mass index (BMI) to compare the data. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by his or her height (in meters, squared). BMI can also be calculated by multiplying weight (in pounds) by 705, then dividing by height (in inches) twice. A BMI or 25 is considered overweight, over 30 is considered obese and over 40 is considered severly obese.

The HUNT studies showed that women with a BMI greater than 25 had a 60% t o70% increased risk of developing compared to women with a health BMI score.

“Being overweight or obese was associated with an increased risk of fibromyalgia, especially among women who also reported low levels of leisure time physical exercise,” the researchers conclude. “Community-based measures aimed at reducing the incident of fibromyalgia should emphasize the importance of regular physical exercise and maintenance of normal body weight.”

However, the study also showed that exercise tended to offset the risk of developing fibromyalgia as a result of being overweight. The more that the women exercised the lower their risk of developing fibromyalgia. The beneficial effect of exercise was similar with those that were overweight or obese.

The researchers did not entirely understand how excess weight played into the increase in risk. However, there has been some research that suggests that increased levels of certain inflammatory proteins may play a role in both fibromyalgia and obesity.

“The results of this study underline the connection between exercise, obesity, and well-being. And a person who exercises and is conscious about their weight will have better health and that may include a lower risk of developing ,” says Eric Matteson, MD, chair of the department of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The results of the study were published in the May issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

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