ALS: What’s the Role of Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes?

ALS, Amyotrpohic Lateral Sclerosis, Motor Neurone DiseaseI think I can safely state that obesity can lead to diabetes, which in turn can lead to several other negative health issues.

However, according to a recent study by Kiomourtzoglou and colleagues (2015) being obese and having type 2 diabetes can actually protect people against a few rare conditions.

The population-based nested case-control study of 3,650 Danish residents diagnosed as having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or motor neurone disease) compared them with 365,000 controls.

The estimated odds ratio for ALS was 0.61 (95% CI 0.46 to 0.80) in patients with diabetes and 0.81 (95% CI 0.57 to 1.16) in those with obesity.

ALS usually strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and approximately 20,000 Americans can have the disease at any given time (although this number fluctuates). For unknown reasons, military veterans are approximately twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease than the general public (ALS Association, 2015).

Studies of populations of military personnel who were deployed to the Gulf region during the 1991 war show that those veterans were more likely to develop ALS compared to military personnel who were not in the region (NINDS, 2015).



Kioumourtzoglou, M-A., Rotem, R.S., Seals, R.M., Gredal, O., Hansen, J. & Weisskopf, M.G. (2015) Diabetes Mellitus, Obesity, and Diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
A Population-Based Study. JAMA Neurology. 72(8), pp.905-911. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.0910.

The ALS Association (2015) About ALS. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].

NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) (2015) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Fact Sheet. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 19 August, 2015].


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