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Obesity Linked to Higher Risk of Restless Legs Syndrome

Last Updated: April 07, 2009.

Obesity may put individuals at higher risk of developing restless legs syndrome, according to research published in the April 7 issue of Neurology.

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity may put individuals at higher risk of developing restless legs syndrome, according to research published in the April 7 issue of Neurology.

Xiang Gao, M.D., Ph.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 88,673 men and women in the Health Professional Follow-Up Study and the Nurses' Health Study II, who answered questions on restless legs syndrome symptoms and their height and weight.

Out of these groups, 6.4 percent of women and 4.1 percent of men were considered to have the condition. Having a body mass index of 30 or more compared to below 23 was associated with a higher risk of restless legs syndrome (odds ratio, 1.42), as was being in the highest versus lowest quintile of waist circumference (odds ratio, 1.60), the researchers report.

"The mechanisms through which obesity is associated with restless legs syndrome are likely to be multiple. Cardiovascular diseases are associated with an increased risk of both obesity and restless legs syndrome, and it has been suggested that vascular pathology may contribute to restless legs syndrome," the authors write. "However, exclusion of participants with cardiovascular diseases had a minimal effect on our results, suggesting that other factors mediate the relation between obesity and restless legs syndrome. Results from several investigations suggest that the dopaminergic system in the central nervous system may be affected in both obesity and restless legs syndrome."

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