Younger patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) who are within a healthy weight range are overconsuming energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods, according to a new study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics

Focusing on improving the quality of diet during early childhood may help reduce excess weight gain and support healthier eating habits in these patients, the authors said.

Obesity is common among boys with DMD. This could be partly due to the fact that patients lose the ability to walk at an early age and are not very mobile. There may also be dietary factors that contribute to weight gain in these patients. However, little is known about the effect of diet on obesity in DMD.


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In the present study, a team of researchers led by Zoe E. Davidson, PhD, explored the relationships between dietary factors, body mass index (BMI) z-scores, body compositions, and motor functions in boys with DMD.

The team analyzed 3-day food diaries of 37 boys with DMD, aged 5 to 13 years who were still able to walk and who were being treated with steroids. They explored the relationships between dietary factors, BMI z-scores, fat mass percentages, and lean mass percentages.

The results showed that median energy per kg per day in boys who were within a healthy weight range was 316 kJ per kg per day. This was higher than the estimated requirements.

For patients who were above a healthy weight, the energy intake was 185 kJ per kg per day, which was lower than the estimated requirements. Energy per kg per day was negatively associated with BMI z-score and fat mass percentage. It was positively associated with lean mass percentage and younger age. 

“For all participants vegetable, grains, meat/alternatives and dairy intake was sub-optimal,” the researchers concluded.

Reference

Billich N, Evans M, Truby H, Ryan MM, Davidson ZE. The association between dietary factors and body weight and composition in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. J Hum Nutr Diet. Published online December 22, 2021. doi:10.1111/jhn.12987