Lack of physical activity and a poor diet may be the most common risk factors for poor health and survival in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study.
The development of other medical conditions in MS patients may both delay an MS diagnosis and increase the progression of the disease. SNAP risk factors — smoking, poor nutrition, excess alcohol consumption, and insufficient physical activity — contribute to the development of several health conditions in the general population, but even more so among MS patients.
Previous studies have tried to determine the effect of each SNAP risk factor in MS, but researchers have been unable to determine how multiple SNAP factors combine to increase risk.
The study involved 69 MS patients who reported on their smoking habits, nutrition, alcohol use, and level of physical activity. Researchers also collected data on the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of each patient.
To be included in the study, patients had to be 18 to 64, had experienced no relapses in 30 days, were able to move about with or without assistance, and could not be pregnant — since pregnancy can alter health behaviors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tobacco Use Questionnaire was used to evaluate smoking status. It asked patients how many cigarettes they smoked a day or had smoked in their lifetimes. Patients were considered smokers if they smoked every day or some days, and non-smokers if they had never smoked 100 cigarettes or no longer smoked.
Inadequate fruit/vegetable and whole-grain consumption was considered an index of poor nutrition. Researchers defined inadequate consumption as patients failing to meet the fruit and vegetable guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (MyPlate.gov).
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