Increased prevalence of undernutrition in Parkinson's disease and its relationship to clinical disease parameters

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Summary

An anthropometric study was performed in 95 subjects (53 male, 42 female) with Parkinson's disease. Weight, height, triceps and biceps skin-fold thicknesses, and mid-arm circumference were recorded. A high incidence of undernutrition was found (23.6% of males and 22.5% of females, as defined by recent British guidelines). A subgroup of severely disabled patients with Parkinson's disease had a significantly lower mean body mass index than a similarly disabled control group with chronic pyramidal upper motor neuron lesions (males 20.6v 23.2 kg/m2 p<0.05; females 20.6v 26.6 kg/m2 p<0.01), suggesting that the undernutrition is not due to chronic illness or immobility alone. Correlation between anthropometric indices and clinical features of disease demonstrated that the presence of moderate or severe dyskinetic movements was the clinical parameter most strongly related to undernutrition. The reduction in anthropometric indices was most marked for skin fold thickness (related to percentage body fat) and least for arm muscle circumference (related to lean body mass); therefore the weight loss seen in Parkinson's disease is primarily due to fat loss rather than muscle loss.