What is it about?

This study examined how body composition changes in the course of Parkinson’s disease (PD) using objective and repeated measures of body composition in an elderly community-dwelling population. We found that the body weight of PD cases began to decrease a few years before diagnosis, which persisted into the years after diagnosis. By year 9 after PD diagnosis, the cumulative loss was on average about 5.7 kg. We further found that, on average, 96% of the loss was from loss of fat mass, whereas the lean mass in PD cases was well preserved.

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Why is it important?

Weight loss is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, little is known when it starts, how it changes as PD progresses, and whether there is a differential loss of lean or fat mass. To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal analysis of changes in body composition using repeated measures by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. We found a substantial and persistent weight loss in PD patients, predominantly of fat mass, starting a few years before PD diagnosis.


In this longitudinal study with repeated measures of body composition, we found that the weight loss of PD cases occurs a few years before diagnosis. Weight loss can thus be a potential factor for early recognition of Parkinson's Disease.

Shengfang Song
Michigan State University

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This page is a summary of: Changes in Body Composition Before and After Parkinson's Disease Diagnosis, Movement Disorders, February 2021, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/mds.28536.
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