New research discovers that it is normal for patients with Parkinson’s disease to have significant weight fluctuations.
People may gain or lose weight depending on the stage of the disease. They may also gain up to 25 pounds after a course of deep brain stimulation.
Unfortunately, weight variances can worsen the quality of life of a person who is already suffering from motor disorders.
“The body weight and eating habits of Parkinson’s patients change as the disease progresses”, explains Marilena Aiello, first author of the study published in the journal Appetite.
“In our paper, we reviewed studies on Parkinson’s that provided data on the association between non-motor symptoms and dietary habits and body weight. This way, we were able to evaluate some factors which, beyond the motor symptoms and drug treatments, might play a role in this problem”.
A variety of factors can influence poor dietary habits among individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Common issues include depression, cognitive impairment, and sensory disturbances that alter smell and taste. Additionally, an impaired ability to feel pleasure may trigger incorrect eating habits.
“The possible role of the ability to feel (or not feel) pleasure and motivation towards food consumption is particularly interesting,” says Aeillo.
“Parkinson’s patients may be somewhat lacking in this respect and therefore eat less and lose weight, whereas the weight gain exhibited after deep brain stimulation seems to point to an increase in pleasure and motivation associated with food. Specific studies are required to confirm or refute this finding emerging from the literature review”.
Aiello believes the information gained from the study can help those working with patient with Parkinson’s.
For example, healthcare workers and family members can benefit from an awareness of the dynamic factors that occur with the disease.
“This knowledge is in fact crucial for devising interventions to minimize the effect of the deficits and restore normal weight levels in individuals who are already suffering because of the disease,” says Aiello.