Weight Loss in Parkinson's Disease

Laura Nubuck/HAAP Media

If you have Parkinson's disease (PD), you may feel that one of the few benefits of PD is weight loss. Weight loss in PD is a documented fact, with some people losing 40 to 50 pounds after they were diagnosed. Persons with PD are in fact 4 times more likely to lose weight over a period of time than are matched ‘controls’ -- people of similar age and background. A larger proportion of women than men with PD experience weight loss.

Of course, not all people with PD experience weight loss. But the fact that many do is an interesting act that needs to be explained. Do persons with PD eat less after they are diagnosed? Are those with depression the ones who experience weight loss? Many people with PD have difficulty with smell, and, if you lose your sense of smell, your appetite often suffers as well. Perhaps all that shaking and trembling, not to mention the dyskinesias associated with use of levodopa, causes more energy to be used and more fat to be burned. Yet, none of these potential explanations of weight loss in PD have stood up to rigorous testing. Persons with PD eat just as much as their peers whether or not they are depressed, lack a normal sense of smell or experience severe dyskinesias. Others have hypothesized a role for autonomic dysfunction or altered metabolism. So the mystery of weight loss in PD remains just that, a mystery.


Kashihara K. Weight loss in Parkinson's disease. J Neurol. 2006 Dec;253 Suppl 7:VII38-41. Review.

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