Presymptomatic patients suffering with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) ingest more calories per day but have lower body-mass index (BMI) in comparison to those without ALS. These are the results of a study from researchers in the Netherlands, published by the JAMA Neurology journal, which also assessed ALS disease risk and its connections with both food and alcohol intake.
The reasons behind ALS development are not completely clear. Researchers have observed that diet is an extremely modifiable variable and previous studies have not found a consistent nutrient that can alter disease susceptibility. Furthermore, contradictory results exist for the association between ALS development and fat intake.
Jan H. Veldink from the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands, and his team utilized a 199-item food frequency questionnaire to evaluate pre-illness dietary intake and check possible connections with the risk of developing ALS. The study occurred between 2006 and September 2011, with 674 newly diagnosed ALS patients and 2,093 control patients without the disease included.
The research team observed that presymptomatic total calorie intake in those with ALS was higher when compared to the calorie intake in the control group (an average of 2,258 versus 2,119 kcal/day) but curiously, presymptomatic BMI was lower in individuals with the disease (25.7 versus 26). The study results also revealed that higher premorbid intake of total fat, trans-fatty acids, saturated fat and cholesterol was linked to an increased ALS risk, while augmented alcohol intake was correlated with a lower risk. No significant associations were cleared between dietary intake and the survival rates.
The authors highlight that this study might have limitations, since using a questionnaire is likely to recall bias by participants. “The combination of independent positive associations of a low premorbid body mass index and a high fat intake together with prior evidence from ALS mouse models … and earlier reports on premorbid body mass index support a role for increased resting energy expenditure before clinical onset of ALS,” the researches explained in a recent news release.