Being mildly overweight benefits ALS patients

March 12, 2017

Depending on the particular clinical trial, survival data was available for one to two years after study initiation. While higher baseline cholesterol levels were associated with longer survival, that association disappeared when the results were controlled for BMI. As expected, the shortest survival was seen in malnourished or morbidly obese patients, but patients in the mildly obese range had the longest survival of any BMI group.

"While this finding needs further investigation, we hypothesize that it is due to increased energy reserves available to these patients," says Wills, an instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. "We don't know whether actively putting on weight would be helpful, but right now I'm telling my patients with ALS they can eat anything they want."

The MGH team is leading a clinical trial to test the safety and tolerability of a high-fat, high-calorie diet for ALS patient. In order to precisely control participants' caloric intake, the study is limited to ALS patients who already have a feeding tube in place. Sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the trial takes place at 12 sites around the country.

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital