Obesity and Sleep Apnoea

Untreated OSA can contribute to weight gain

Obesity is the strongest risk factor for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Approximately 60% of moderate-to-severe OSA is due to obesity. Other risk factors are increasing age, male gender, perimenopausal or postmenopausal status in women and craniofacial abnormalities (eg, a slightly backwards displaced lower jaw or overbite).

However there is evidence for a bi-directional relationship between obesity and OSA with recognition that the development of OSA and its subsequent sleep fragmentation may contribute to accelerated weight gain.

  • Many patients report rapid increases in weight in the year prior to OSA diagnosis
  • Data shows sleep deprivation states are associated with increases in appetite hormones
  • Sleep deprivation states result in altered eating patterns, including a preference for calorie-dense foods

Untreated OSA and obesity may create a vicious cycle of increased OSA and obesity, unless patients are properly managed.


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