"If future prospective studies confirm that obesity is a risk factor for RLS, weight reduction may contribute to RLS prevention," Gao speculated.
Dr. Carlos Singer, director of the Center for Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders at the University of Miami School of Medicine, said the study may be yet another reason to watch your weight.
"This is a warning to all of us -- watch out for obesity," Singer said.
But Singer cautioned that the link between obesity and RLS remains unclear and the two conditions may simply be linked by some other, as yet unknown, factor. Still, he added, it can't hurt to try and lose weight in order to stave off RLS, since "we have plenty of good reasons already not to be obese."
The finding may also provide more clues to the origins of RLS, Singer said. The link between the condition and decreased dopamine is interesting, he added, because dopamine is also a hallmark of Parkinson's disease, another movement disorder.
For more information on restless legs syndrome, visit the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke .
SOURCES: Xiang Gao, M.D., Ph.D., instructor in medicine, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Carlos Singer, M.D., director, Center for Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders, and professor of neurology, University of Miami School of Medicine; April 7, 2009, Neurology
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