Low BMI, High Dietary Intake Linked to ALS

HealthDay News — Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have higher presymptomatic total daily energy intake and lower body mass index (BMI) than those without the disease, according to a study published in JAMA Neurology.

Mark H.B. Huisman, MD, from the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues examined premorbid intake of nutrients in association with the risk of ALS using a 199-item food frequency questionnaire. Six hundred seventy-four eligible patients returned a completed questionnaire; they were matched for sex and age with 2,093 randomly selected controls.

The researchers found that presymptomatic total daily energy intake was significantly higher in patients than controls (2,258 versus 2,119 kcal/day; P < 0.01), and presymptomatic BMI was significantly lower in patients (25.7 versus 26.0 kg/m²; P = 0.02). Higher premorbid intake of total fat, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, and cholesterol correlated with increased risk of ALS (odds ratios, 1.14, 1.43, 1.03, and 1.08; all P < 0.001). The risk of ALS was decreased with higher intake of alcohol (odds ratio, 0.91; P = 0.03). The correlations were independent of total energy intake, age, sex, BMI, education level, smoking, and lifetime physical activity.

“The combination of a positive association of high total energy intake, low premorbid BMI, and high fat intake, corrected for lifetime physical activity, supports a role for an altered energy metabolism before clinical onset of ALS,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.


  1. Huisman MHB et al. JAMA Neurol. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.1584.