In a recent study entitled “Fibromyalgia and Obesity: The Association Between Body Mass Index and Disability, Depression, History of Abuse, Medications, and Comorbidities,” researchers investigated if fibromyalgia (FM) patients exhibit a higher frequency of increased body mass index and how this impacts disease progression. The results confirmed a high incidence of obesity in FM patients associated with worsening of symptoms. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.
FM is characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, poor sleep, impaired memory and concentration, and is further associated with depression. An increasing number of studies have been reporting a high incidence of obesity in FM patients, and high body mass index (BMI) seems to be associated with pain and fatigue. In fact, BMI might impact on FM progression, since obese FM patients that underwent weight loss exhibited significantly lower levels of pain, tender point counts, sensitivity reaching and, in some cases, absence of FM symptoms.
In this study, authors investigated how obesity impacts on some less-studied FM symptoms, including bipolar disorder symptoms, number and types of medications, comorbidities, stress, and history of abuse. Patients at the Cleveland Clinic Fibromyalgia Cohort were enrolled in the study, all diagnosed with FM according to the American College of Rheumatology FM criteria. Patients were subsequently divided into three categories according to their BMI: normal weight, overweight, and obese.
Authors studied a total of 224 patients and observed that of these, 0.4% were underweight 25.9%, had normal weight, and 29.9% were overweight. When compared to normal-weight patients, obese FM patients had both increased medical comorbidities and disabilities. Additionally, these patients exercised less, had a history of abuse, a higher number of depressive symptoms, and took more FM medications.
They proposed that, since excessive weight and obesity are associated with worsening of symptoms in FM patients, physicians should bear in mind weight issues and discuss potential weight loss strategies with these patients. Although obesity is not an intrinsic feature of FM, it should nonetheless be a matter of concern in clinicians treating FM patients accordingly.