According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. The issue has grown to epidemic proportions, with over 4 million people dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese in 2017 according to the global burden of disease.
Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death worldwide. Being overweight can also lead to diabetes and its associated conditions, including blindness, limb amputations, and the need for dialysis. Rates of diabetes have quadrupled since around the world since 1980. Carrying excess weight can lead to musculoskeletal disorders including osteoarthritis. Obesity is also associated with some cancers, including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney and colon. The risk of these noncommunicable diseases increases even when a person is only slightly overweight and grows more serious as the body mass index (BMI) climbs into higher digits.
Overweight and obese individuals are more likely to have respiratory symptoms than individuals with a normal BMI, even in the absence of demonstrable lung disease. Studies have shown an increase in self-reported dyspnea and wheezing at rest and on exertion in obese compared with lean individuals. So how does this all translate?
With the rise of weight and BMI the lung volumes decreases. This leads to more restricted air entry. Fat distribution around the abdomen leads to worsening lung function and respiratory symptoms. Lower body fat deposition is less associated with respiratory symptoms in comparison.
It is hypothesized that deposition of fat tissue in the abdominal wall and around the abdominal organs hampers movement of the diaphragm and reduce the lung expansion during inspiration and reduced lung capacity.
The function of the respiratory muscles also deteriorates in obese patients much like in respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).
Obesity affects the respiratory system health adversely in more ways than one. Some of the health effects of obesity on respiratory system include diseases like:-
The obvious first step is to lose weight but as with all drastic changes in lifestyle we recommend a consultation with your doctor before embarking on a new diet or exercise regime. Other steps you can take to support your lungs include:
Diaphragmatic breathing uses the awareness of the diaphragm muscle, which separates the organs in the abdomen from the lungs.
Deep breathing can help you get to your lung’s full capacity – slow deep inhale and expelling of air is recommended. Meditation assists with this method.
Start by counting how long a natural breath takes. If it takes to the count of five to inhale, it should take to the count of five to exhale. Try to keep them to an equal length.
Giving your lungs even more room is leaning back slightly in a stable chair, lifting the chest, and opening the front of your body as you breathe deeply.
Staying well hydrated by taking in fluids throughout the day helps keep the mucosal linings in the lungs thin – which supports healthy functionality.
Regular, moderately intense activity is great for the lungs, and when you increase your daily activity you get three things done at once: healthy lungs, a healthier heart and a better mood
The added strain that nicotine and other chemicals add to the lungs have a major impact on healthy lung performance.
Our team of cardiologists and internal medicine consultants understands the risks to lung functionality and are there to answer all your questions on this topic. As part of our treatment plans we investigate all factors from family history to current symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information on the topic.
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