INTRODUCTION: Previous studies have reported that people with obesity have slower walking speed, poor balance control, and more energy expenditure during gait than patients without obesity. However, little is known about the effect of obesity on walking and balance control in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). This study aimed to investigate the associations of obesity with walking and balance control in fully ambulatory people with MS using two different obesity classifications.
METHODS: This study included 210 fully ambulatory people with MS. Obesity classification recommended for MS and obesity classification by the World Health Organization (WHO) were used. Outcome measures included walking speed [timed 25-foot walk (T25FW)], walking endurance [six-minute walk test (6MWT)], perceived walking impairment [12-item ms walking scale (MSWS-12)], and balance control [timed up and go (TUG) test].
RESULTS: According to recommendations for MS and WHO classification, 105 (50%) and 28 (13.3%) participants were classified as obese, respectively. Both groups revealed that patients who are overweight and obese have lower scores in T25FW, 6MWT, and TUG tests, whereas higher scores on the MSWS-12 than patients without obesity, with a significant difference (p<0.05).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: People who are overweight and obese with MS have poorer performance on walking speed, walking endurance, perceived walking impairment, and balance control than non-obese counterparts. Future longitudinal studies should investigate the effects of losing weight on walking and balance in people with MS.