We know that in ALS it is important to maintain the BMI at 27, which is incredibly difficult practically for patients but also psychologically for caregivers who do not understand that becoming mildly obese can be beneficial. This is especially true if the patient previously had a very healthy weight profile.
Several publications hint at similar benefits of weight gain in Parkinson's disease. Early weight loss is a typical symptom in Parkinson's disease patients and this may be accompanied by cognitive decline.
This observational study used data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative cohort. The patients underwent annual non-motor assessments covering neuropsychiatric, sleep-related, and autonomic symptoms for up to 8 years of follow-up. Cognitive function was measured using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and detailed neuropsychological testing. Linear mixed-effects models were applied to investigate the association of early weight change with longitudinal evolution of cognitive and other non-motor symptoms.
358 individuals with Parkinson's disease who had just received a diagnosis but had not yet begun taking medication for the condition were the subject of the study. They were 61 years old on average. 174 individuals free of Parkinson's disease were compared to them. While observational studies generally produce results similar to those conducted as randomized controlled trials, an observational study draws inferences from a sample to a population where the independent variable is not under the control of the researcher so it is possible there are some hidden bias in such studies.
A change in body weight of more than 3% during the study's first year was deemed to be either weight gain or loss. 98 individuals lost weight, 59 individuals gained weight, and 201 individuals maintained their weight.
Prior to the study's start and then once a year for up to eight years, participants took a test of their thinking abilities. They also looked for other non-motor symptoms, like anxiety, depression, and difficulty falling asleep, that Parkinson's patients might experience.
When compared to Parkinson's patients who maintained their weight, those who lost weight saw a decline in their scores annually. Fluency skills, showed the greatest decline in thinking abilities.
Conversely, Parkinson's patients who gained weight saw a slower decline in their processing speed test scores than those who kept their weight.
Weight change did not correlate with any other nonmotor symptoms.
There was no connection between weight change and results on the thinking skills test among individuals without Parkinson's disease.
According to Jun, "These results highlight the potential significance of weight management in the early stages of Parkinson's disease." If taking measures to prevent weight loss can slow cognitive deterioration in people with Parkinson's disease, more research is required to confirm this. ".
This observational study only demonstrates an association; it does not establish a causal relationship between weight changes and changes in thinking abilities. Yet diet change in order to gain weigth in a healthy manner is something that patients and carers can easily do at home.