While obesity has been known to increase the risk of many cardiometabolic diseases in healthy people, it may pose even greater risk for people living with traumatic brain injury (TBI), a study has found. The study found that for people with moderate to severe TBI, obesity may be associated with long term chronic disease risks including high blood pressure, heart failure, and diabetes.
In TBI patients, weight gain may occur due to a wide range of factors including medical conditions, medications, cognitive or behavioural changes, physical limitations, and lack of transportation or other resources. “Being obese or overweight presents a health risk in the years following rehabilitation for TBI,” said lead author Laura E. Dreer from The University of Alabama in the US.
“Achieving and maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity following a TBI are critical goals for recovery,” Dreer added. In the study, published in Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 7,287 obese patients with TBI who had undergone inpatient acute rehabilitation, rated themselves as having poorer general health.
The frequency of seizures — a common problem among TBI survivors — was also related to differences in body weight and health status. “Lifestyle and health behaviours related to weight gain will need to be a component of any proactive approach to managing TBI as a chronic health condition,” Dreer said.