The lifestyle of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and the effect on fatigue and functional impairments

J Hum Nutr Diet. 2009 Jun;22(3):226-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2008.00933.x. Epub 2009 Feb 17.


Background: Little is known about the lifestyle of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and its influence on symptoms of CFS. The present study aimed to investigate the lifestyle of patients with CFS, and to assess whether lifestyle factors are related to fatigue and functional impairments.

Methods: Two hundred and forty-seven patients fulfilling the Center for Disease Control criteria for CFS were included. Validated questionnaires were used to collect data on lifestyle factors, smoking, intake of alcohol, fat, fibres, fruit and vegetables, body mass index (BMI), fatigue severity and functional impairments.

Results: Of the CFS patients, 23% smoked, 32% had an unhealthy BMI, and none had an unhealthy alcohol intake. A majority had an unhealthy food intake: 70% had unhealthy fat, fruit and vegetable intake, and 95% had unhealthy fibre intake. Compared with the general Dutch population, significantly fewer CFS patients were overweight. Significantly more female CFS patients abstained from alcohol, and fewer male CFS patients smoked. Unhealthy lifestyle factors were not significantly associated with fatigue severity or functional impairments.

Conclusions: CFS patients tend to lead a healthier lifestyle compared to the general Dutch population. However, no relationship was found between lifestyle factors and fatigue severity and functional impairments in CFS.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Young Adult