The aim of this study was to examine the relationship of obesity with walking and balance in people with multiple sclerosis.Design
This was a cross-sectional study performed at the Multiple Sclerosis Center, Sheba Medical Center, Israel. Four hundred thirty-six people with multiple sclerosis were divided into obese (n = 178) and normal-weight (n = 258) groups. Spatiotemporal parameters of gait, 2-Minute Walk test, 6-Minute Walk test, Timed Up and Go test, Timed 25-Foot Walk test, Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale self-reported questionnaire, and posturography measures were determined.Results
Compared with normal-weight patients, obese subjects walked significantly slower [98.7 (SD, 29.2) m/s vs. 106.4 (SD, 29.2) m/s; P = 0.01], with shorter step lengths [54.8 (SD, 11.6) cm vs. 58.1 (SD, 10.7) cm; P = 0.003] and a wider step width [12.1 (SD, 3.7) cm vs. 10.9 (SD, 4.6) cm; P = 0.01]. Furthermore, the obese group walked a shorter distance on the 6-Minute Walk test [378.2 (SD, 145.5) m vs. 426.1 (SD, 129.8) m; P ≤ 0.001] and slower on the Timed 25-Foot Walk test [9.0 (SD, 8.0) seconds vs. 7.2 (SD, 2.4) seconds; P = 0.006] and the Timed Up and Go test [9.2 (SD, 6.3) seconds vs. 10.0 (SD, 6.1) seconds; P = 0.002]. No significant differences between groups were noted in the Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale self-reported questionnaire and postural control measures.Conclusion
Obesity affects walking but not postural control in people with multiple sclerosis despite the level of neurological disability.