I was curious about the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and fibromyalgia (FM), so I decided to research it. The connection intrigued me, partly because I’ve always straddled the fence between being overweight and obese.
According to a 2015 study on the effects of BMI in people with fibromyalgia:
“Compared with normal-weight patients, obese FM patients are more disabled, report more medical comorbidities, exercise less, have a higher incidence of abuse, report increased depressive symptoms, and take more medications for FM. Bivariate analysis showed association of increasing BMI with the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (not FM impact questionnaire) and depression. We confirm that the prevalence of overweight and obesity is high in FM and believe that physicians treating FM should be aware of our bivariate linear correlations and discuss weight loss with their FM patients. Even if increasing BMI is not intrinsic to FM, it contributes to poor mood and functional outcome and should be a treatment goal.”
Several doctors have discussed weight loss with me, but between my age, my medications, and my other illnesses, it’s difficult to lose a significant amount of weight. I know that I’m not alone in this frustrating struggle. I guess it makes sense that if we’re overweight, we’d experience more pain, a greater sense of depression, and an inability to exercise. Basically, it would affect our quality of life in a variety of negative ways.
Several years ago, research suggested that obesity was commonly comorbid with fibromyalgia and could potentially be related to the severity of the disease. A more recent study evaluated the relationship between fibromyalgia and obesity in a variety of areas, including hyperalgesia, physical abilities, and sleep. Researchers discovered that obesity was significantly related to increased sensitivity to pain, especially in the lower body areas. Obesity was also related to a reduction in physical strength and lower body flexibility, as well as greater restlessness throughout the night. These relationships have all proved true in my own life.
It’s possible that obese women are at risk of developing fibromyalgia. Maybe we have more inflammatory markers, or maybe the stress on the body caused by excess weight impacts the disease process. I don’t know. But I do know there needs to be more education. The medical community needs to be more proactive and less judgmental with regards to fibromyalgia, especially when it comes to weight management.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.
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