The association between obesity and restless legs syndrome: A systemic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

J Affect Disord. 2018 Aug 1:235:384-391. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.04.042. Epub 2018 Apr 10.


Objective: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) has been reported to occur more frequently in obese individuals than in those with normal weight. In this study, a systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to explore the relationship between obesity and RLS.

Methods: Published articles were identified through a comprehensive review of PUBMED and EMBASE from inception to the 16th December 2017. Data from studies reporting relative risks, odds ratios, or hazard ratios comparing the risk of RLS among individuals with obesity versus people with normal weight were analyzed. A random-effect model was used to calculate pooled odds ratios and 95% confident intervals (CI) for the association between obesity and RLS.

Results: Findings for a total of 197,204 participants were pooled across 15 studies and were examined. Our analyses demonstrated a positive association between obesity and RLS, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.44 (95%CI: 1.31-1.58, I2 = 62.3%). Overweight subjects were also likely to have RLS, with an odds ratio of 1.29 (95%CI: 1.22-1.36, I2 = 0). In subgroup analysis, women (OR = 1.42) with obesity were more likely to have RLS as compared with men (OR = 1.19).

Conclusions: Adults with obesity are more likely to suffer from RLS, with women at higher risk.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Obesity; Overweight; Restless legs syndrome.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / physiopathology*