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Study: Childhood obesity may increase risk of multiple sclerosis

It is never easy for anyone to receive news that they have a major illness or debilitating disease. When a doctor tells you that you have a serious disease like multiple sclerosis, a sense of panic may engulf you at first, but after the initial shock wears off, you may start to wonder about your finances and the well-being of those who depend on your ability to work for support.

MS is a neurological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to control the way their body functions. While some people can live an active lifestyle for many years after being diagnosed with MS, others are stricken to wheelchairs and need the assistance of caretakers in order to perform daily tasks. If the disease does continue to escalate in severity, over time an individual may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if he or she can no longer work as a result of MS.

Some symptoms of MS include: difficulty concentrating, memory problems, difficulty walking, muscle weakness, eye pain, double vision and decreased coordination. While MS is commonly diagnosed when patients are in their 20s and early 50s, over the past few years more children have been diagnosed with the condition than ever before. MS is another disease in a long line of diseases that is now being associated with the childhood obesity epidemic.

In a recent study, researchers discovered that over 50 percent of children diagnosed with pediatric MS are obese. Out of the subjects studied, an MS diagnosis was one and a half times more likely in overweight girls and four times more likely in morbidly obese girls. Researchers did note that more studies will need to be conducted in order to determine whether there is a strong link between childhood obesity and MS.

Source: CNN Health, "Obese girls at risk of multiple sclerosis, study finds," Jan. 30, 2013

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