Reduced body mass index in essential tremor: A study of 382 cases and 392 matched controls

E. D. Louis, M. Michalec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: There is mounting evidence that essential tremor (ET) is a neurodegenerative disease. Reduced body mass index (BMI) is a clinical feature of many neurodegenerative diseases, yet there has been little documentation of BMI in patients with ET. Methods: Essential tremor cases and controls were enrolled in a study of the environmental epidemiology of ET at Columbia University Medical Center. Weight and height were measured using a standard protocol; BMI was weight (kg) divided by height (m2). Daily calorie count (kcal) was calculated using the Willett Semi-Quantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire. Tremor severity was assessed with a clinical rating scale (total tremor score, range 0-36). Results: The 382 ET cases and 392 controls were similar with respect to age, gender and other demographic variables. BMI was lower in ET cases than controls [26.7 ± 5.0 (median = 26.2) vs. 27.7 ± 5.6 (median = 26.7), P = 0.03] despite the fact that the daily caloric intake was marginally higher in ET cases than controls (P = 0.09). In ET cases, BMI was not associated with tremor severity (Spearman's r = -0.02, P = 0.66) but, among younger onset ET cases, longer tremor duration was associated with lower BMI (Spearman's r = -0.14, P = 0.049). Conclusions: The observed lower BMI in ET is consistent with the neurodegenerative hypothesis of ET. The data also suggest that some mechanism other than decreased daily caloric intake or an involuntary movement-related increased burning of calories is likely to account for this case-control difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-388
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Clinical
  • Epidemiology
  • Essential tremor
  • Neurodegeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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