People who gain or lose weight soon after
being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may be more likely to have changes in
their thinking skills than people who maintain their weight, according to a
study published in the online issue of Neurology.

The study involved 358 people who were
recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and had not yet started taking
Parkinson’s medications. They were an average age of 61 and had been diagnosed
an average of two years earlier. They were compared to 174 people who did not
have Parkinson’s disease.

Weight gain or loss was defined as a change of
more than 3% of body weight during the first year of the study. Weight
maintenance was defined as no change or change of no more than 3%. A total of
98 people had weight loss, 59 had weight gain and 201 maintained their weight.

Participants took tests of thinking skills at
the beginning of the study and then every year for up to eight years. They also
took tests for other non-motor symptoms that can occur in people with
Parkinson’s disease, such as depression, anxiety and sleep disorders.

The people with Parkinson’s who lost weight
had a faster decline in their overall thinking scores compared to those with
Parkinson’s who maintained their weight. Both groups started with average
scores of 27 on the test. The scores of those who lost weight declined 0.19
points faster per year than those of those who maintained their weight. The
thinking skills with the steepest declines were related to verbal fluency
skills, which are a measure of executive function.

In contrast, the people with Parkinson’s who
gained weight had a slower decline in their scores on a test of processing
speed compared to those who maintained their weight.

However, its to be noted that the study does
not prove that weight change causes changes in thinking skills; it only shows
an association.

Reference:

Jin-Sun Jun et al,JOURNAL:Neurology

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