More Research Links Obesity to Sleep Apnea

It’s not difficult for sleep physicians to predict which patients are most likely to have sleep apnea. The latest study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) confirms the patient profile, adding more evidence to the widely held belief that obesity is, at least in part, fueling a rise in sleep apnea.

Originally published in the American Journal of Epidemiology “Increased Prevalence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Adults”.

“There are probably 4 million to 5 million people who are more likely to have sleep apnea due to the obesity epidemic,” says Paul Peppard, PhD, assistant professor of population health sciences at UWM in an article by Traci Pedersen. “It’s certainly an uncalculated cost of the obesity epidemic, an epidemic of its own.”

Specific findings show a sizable spike in sleep apnea cases over the past two decades—as much as 55%. The study involved more than 600 adults, ages 30 to 70, who underwent sleep tests between 1988 and 1994—with some continuing to take part along with hundreds of new participants from 2007 to 2010.

Pedersen summarizes that among all groups, heavier people were much more likely than thinner people to suffer from sleep apnea. Peppard estimates that 80% to 90% of the increase in symptoms is due to the growth in obesity.

Click here for the study abstract.

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