Toronto: Individuals who are obese in early adulthood are at a heightened risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study warns. MS is a progressive neurological disorder, which attacks the spinal cord and brain as well as can lead to disability and death. The findings showed that a change in body mass index from overweight to obese was associated with an increase of about 40 per cent in the risk of MS. "These findings may carry important public health implications because of the high prevalence of obesity in many countries note the authors in their research article,” said Brent Richards from the Jewish General Hospital in Canada. “Obesity in early life is indeed causally related to multiple sclerosis risk and provide[s] a further rationale for obesity prevention," said the researchers. Because the median age of onset for MS is 28-31 years, the study provides motivation to combat increasing youth obesity rates by implementing community and school-based interventions that promote physical activity and nutrition, said the paper published in PLOS Medicine. For the study, the team carried out a Mendelian randomisation study in large population datasets to investigate whether genetically determined obesity was associated with increased risk of MS.