UK Study on Obesity in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Underscores Unimaginative Research Effort

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
A study on obesity in ME/CFS adolescents was just published. It came out of....drum roll...the U.K.!

For the record, obesity was increased in the presumably very inactive ME/CFS patients but it was still only found in about 15% of them.

They don't link obesity as a cause of ME/CFS; instead, they suggest that low levels of activity would understandably lead to it.

Adolescents with CFS/ME may have an increased susceptibility for the development of obesity, via decreased levels of physical activity and/or increased time spent doing sedentary activities3,10 and it is plausible that greater risk will be observed in those with more debilitating CFS/ME. As obesity has been observed to track from youth into adulthood,11 ,12 maintaining the associated increased risk for metabolic sequelae across the life course, it is important to identify whether a diagnosis of CFS/ME in adolescence is associated with the prevalence of obesity, so appropriate interventions can be implemented.
Obesity in adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome: an observational study.
Norris T1, Hawton K2, Hamilton-Shield J2, Crawley E3. Arch Dis Child. 2016 Sep 21. pii: archdischild-2016-311293. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2016-311293. [Epub ahead of print]
Identify the prevalence of obesity in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) compared with healthy adolescents, and those identified with CFS in a population cohort.
DESIGN:

Cross-sectional analysis of multiple imputed data.
SETTING:

Data from UK paediatric CFS/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) services compared with data collected at two time points in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

PATIENTS:

1685 adolescents who attended a CFS/ME specialist service between 2004 and 2014 and 13 978 adolescents aged approximately 13 years and 16 years participating in the ALSPAC study.


RESULTS:

Adolescents who had attended specialist CFS/ME services had a higher prevalence of obesity (age 13 years: 9.28%; age 16 years: 16.43%) compared with both adolescents classified as CFS/ME in ALSPAC (age 13 years: 3.72%; age 16 years: 5.46%) and those non-CFS in ALSPAC (age 13 years: 4.18%; age 16 years: 4.46%). The increased odds of obesity in those who attended specialist services (relative to non-CFS in ALSPAC) was apparent at both 13 years (OR: 2.31 (1.54 to 3.48)) and 16 years, with a greater likelihood observed at 16 years (OR: 4.07 (2.04 to 8.11)).
CONCLUSIONS:

We observed an increased prevalence of obesity in adolescents who were affected severely enough to be referred to a specialist CFS/ME service. Further longitudinal research is required in order to identify the temporal relationship between the two conditions.
So the U.K. is spending a significant amount of money not on the cause of ME/CFS but on a side effect of having ME/CFS. The MRC did fund one slate of biological studies four years ago in 2012 but that appears to be it (?) so far as I can tell.

This study brings up the question of where Esther Crawley, the senior author of this and other adolescent behavioral studies is getting her money? It appears from the incomplete records I can find (I can't determine sources of several studies) - mostly from two places: National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council.

National Institute for Health Research (Senior Research Fellowship, EC, SRF-2013-06-013) - The Magenta trial of CBT in young people.

Medical Research Council - £305,242 (2013-2015) - Epidemiology of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) in adolescence. (PI) E Crawley with Co-applicants: A Ness, C Clarke, G Lewis, J Tobias, J Sterne, J Hamilton Shield, K Tilling, P Gringras, P Blair, S Stansfeld..

National Institute of Health Research - $730,000 (date unknown - may overlap with other awards; from FightingFatigue blog) for research to
  • investigate the cause(s) of pediatric ME/CFS. She will use information from a 1990’s study from the University of Bristol’s Children to see how many had the illness, the children’s ages, and the factors that predict CFS.
  • Identify effective treatments for pediatric ME/CFS - (since virtually the only treatments offered are CBT/GET we know how this will turn out)
  • Last but not least, Dr. Crawley will develop a school-based early intervention tool to prevent CFS from developing in children. Part of her plan is to develop and test an education package for those children who are missing school due to fatigue to see if CFS can be prevented - (another CBT/GET intervention)
NIHR Senior Research Fellowship £864,736 (2014-2018) - An investigation of the treatment of paediatric CFS/ME.

They indicate that she's received several million dollars over the past couple of years to continue the U.K.'s long track record of funding behavioral research into ME/CFS.
 
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bobby

Well-Known Member
what a ridiculous study! unimaginative would be an understatement...

sometimes I ponder about exactly how much money has gone into pseudo-research like this... a scary high number I'm sure! :mad:
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Well duh. Low level of activity leads to it in anybody. What a waste of money and time.

Oh and I bet Pwcfs too sick to get out of bed
to feed themselves and are weak from malnourishment think this is really worthwhile.
Plus people who don't have the money to buy or cook good food.....
 

bobby

Well-Known Member
as if being overweight is anywhere on our long list of worries. obesity is just another blame game. true, it can possibly lead to a variety of health issues, but I can easily see them use obesity as a smoke screen to blame all of our 'vague' symptoms on.
 

GG

Well-Known Member
The UK (researchers) deserves all the Ridicule we can muster to throw there way, it can only lead to improvements in the future!


GG
 

Neunistiva

Member
Notice that these are all mildly affected patients. I bet if they looked at us severe ones they would actually see the increase of patients who are underweight. Chewing takes a lot of energy, and gastrointestinal issues also get more severe as the illness progresses.
 

Abrin

Well-Known Member
Notice that these are all mildly affected patients. I bet if they looked at us severe ones they would actually see the increase of patients who are underweight. Chewing takes a lot of energy, and gastrointestinal issues also get more severe as the illness progresses.
I was thinking the exact same thing.
 

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