To say that obesity is a problem in the United States is a vast understatement.
According to the CDC, more than one-third of adults in the country are obese. This problem is also prevalent among younger generations with the childhood obesity rate staying around 17% for the past decade.
Difficulties with obesity extend far beyond just a person’s vanity. In fact, it has been closely linked to countless systemic diseases and health concerns. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis are all conditions linked to obesity, just to name a few.
However, many patients are surprised to learn the role that obesity plays in the development of sleep apnea.
What is Obesity? How is it Related to Sleep Apnea?
Before diving into the connection between obesity and sleep apnea, we want to clarify what it means to be obese. Unlike simply being overweight, obesity refers to those who weigh at least 20% more than what is considered an average weight for their height, which is found by looking at their BMI or body mass index. If obesity continues to worsen, it can then develop into morbid obesity, which is defined as someone with a BMI of 40 or more.
So, what does this have to do with sleep apnea?
In most instances, obese patients will experience obstructive sleep apnea — the type of sleep apnea caused by partial or complete blockage of the airways during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is commonly experienced by obese patients for three main reasons:
- Airway is obstructed by large tonsils
- Airway is obstructed by enlarged tongue
- Airway is obstructed by increased fat in the neck
With increased fatty tissues in the upper airways, obese patients become significantly at risk for sleep apnea. On top of this, there is also a correlation between poor sleep and weight gain, meaning that there’s a cyclical pattern between untreated sleep apnea and the worsening of obesity. Obese patients will experience poor sleep due to their sleep apnea, which, in turn, will lead to additional weight gain.
Overcoming Obesity and Sleep Apnea
Looking at lifestyle choices and making adjustments is a crucial way to overcome obesity, which can also aid your fight against sleep apnea. Some tips to overcome obesity include:
- Eating smaller portions
- Making healthier choices
- Avoiding sugary foods and sodas
- Exercise more
Contact North Texas Sleep Solutions
It’s important to note that although there’s a connection between obesity and sleep apnea, treating one condition doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will treat the other. If you’re ready to treat your sleep apnea for good, contact our office!
Here at North Texas Sleep Solutions, we are committed to treating your condition and giving you the good night’s sleep that you deserve!