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Obesity: A Leading Cause of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that continues to grow, and a lot of it has to do with the obesity epidemic. The worst part is that not only does obesity have an association with sleep apnea, but sleep apnea tends to cause people to eat more, too. It’s a difficult situation in which each condition can add to the other. So, what’s the solution? Losing weight and seeking treatment.

A Look at the Numbers

The statistics are alarming! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. From 1980 to 1999, the number of obese adults jumped from 15% to 27%. And, in 2000, more than 15% of children ages 6 to 19 years old were overweight, which is three times higher than in 1980. We should wonder, “why are we getting fatter as a nation?” Our levels of physical activity have plummeted, and our caloric intake has increased when it should be declining.

Why Does Obesity Lead to Sleep Apnea?

Obesity is a leading cause and side effect of sleep apnea. By adding on weight, it raises the risk of sleep apnea, while losing weight can help cure sleep apnea. When people are severely overweight, they can fail to breathe rapidly enough or deep enough. When this occurs, it results in low blood oxygen levels and high blood carbon dioxide levels. And when this happens, many people who are obese stop breathing altogether for short periods of time during sleep. In return, extreme strain is placed on the heart, which can lead to symptoms of heart failure.

Lose Weight Now

It is important to take charge of your health and life. Begin making smarter choices to lose weight. Sleep experts suggest the following:

  • Make healthy choices for your meals
  • Start exercising consistently
  • Examine your sleep schedule

Weighing yourself on a scale isn’t the answer to improving your weight because muscle often weighs more than fat. To find out what your body mass index (BMI) is, visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s website.

Contact Dr. Bonnie Foster to learn more about sleep apnea and what steps you can take to begin losing weight.