The Relationship Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Obesity

The Relationship Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Obesity

An estimated 18 million people have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Out of that number, approximately 80% are unaware they are a victim.  OSA is often associated with obesity, and about 65% of Americans are now considered overweight, or obese. Obesity and sleep apnea make for a not-so-good concoction and can be detrimental.

To be classified as obese, you must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30. BMI correlates with the severity of OSA, and even though more women than men are obese, the prevalence of OSA in men is higher. It is possible that fat is distributed differently between women and men.  For example, while fat accumulates in the tongue with weight gain, women in general have lower Mallampati scores (see image below).

obstructive sleep apnea and obesity

Women also have a shorter oropharynx (see image below) and therefore a shorter section of upper airway at risk for nighttime collapse.

image 5

Alternatively, men have a higher neck circumference and increased deposition of fat around the neck region, meaning more fat around the airway.  A neck circumference greater than 17 inches in a man and 16 inches in a woman increases the likelihood that the airway will collapse during sleep.  Those affected repeatedly stop breathing and are usually startled awake by a choking reflex.

obesity and sleep apnea

The high percentage of obesity in today’s world can be attributed to numerous causes.  Levels of physical activity have decreased, caloric intake has increased, and no one is getting enough sleep. Those three elements alone are a model for obesity.  If a person is overweight and suffering from OSA, he/she may not be motivated to exercise or maintain a proper diet.  One of the main symptoms of OSA is chronic daytime sleepiness, ultimately impairing a person’s ability to function properly.   Additionally, lack of sleep can impair the body’s metabolism, making it even harder to burn calories.

Obesity is not only a problem for adults, it has become a huge concern among children. Over the last 20 years, obesity-related medical conditions and sleep apnea discharges from the hospital have increased by over 400%.  OSA in children can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, cardiovascular complications, ADHD and learning deficiencies.

If you think you may have Sleep Apnea, click here to take Dr. Klein’s Sleep Disorder Test . You can also visit us on FaceBook.

 

References:

 

8/10/16 Article from Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand Stuff.co.nz

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sleep Medicine Reviews Journal, December 2009

Pediatrics Journal, Michael Schechter, April 2002

 

 

References:

8/10/16 Article from Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand Stuff.co.nz
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sleep Medicine Reviews Journal, December 2009
Pediatrics Journal, Michael Schechter, April 2002