Over the years research has shown a clear link between obesity and obstructive sleep apnea. USA Today reports that a new study from Harvard also links obesity to restless legs syndrome.
The large study involved 65,554 women and 23,119 men. Results show that 6.4 percent of the women and 4.1 percent of the men had RLS.
The risk for RLS was increased by 42 percent in obese people. Those with the largest waist sizes had a risk that was increased by 60 percent. But the study was unable to determine if obesity causes RLS.
RLS may be caused by low iron levels, pregnancy, a nerve disorder, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. It also is more common in people with type 2 diabetes. Pregnant women and people with arthritis or diabetes were excluded from this study.
RLS involves an intense urge to move the legs. The intensity of this urge increases at night and as you lie or sit still. It is relieved only by walking or moving the legs.
RLS often involves other burning, prickly, itching or tingling sensations deep in the legs. Symptoms of RLS tend to become more intense and last longer over time.
Genetics also appears to play a role in RLS. More than half of people with RLS report a pattern of the sleep disorder in their families.
Learn more about how research is cracking the genetic code for RLS at SleepEducation.com.