Increased Waist Size Leads to Poor Lung Function

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Waist Size and Lungs
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Increased waist size is now shown to be linked to poorer lung function. The findings of a new study show that fat around the middle causes decreased lung function, despite gender, smoking history or body mass index (BMI).

Author Natalie Leone, M.D., of French National Institute for Health and Medical Research says, women whose waist size is greater than 35 inches, and 40 inches for men, are at risk for metabolic syndrome. Not only does metabolic syndrome increase the risk of heart disease, but also the new findings show that metabolic syndrome is associated with poor lung function in an analysis of 120,000 people.

The study can be found in the March second issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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"After adjustment for age, sex, BMI, smoking status, alcohol consumption, leisure time physical activity and cardiovascular history, metabolic syndrome remained independently associated with lung function impairment," writes Dr. Leone. The study showed that FEV1 (forced expiratory volume) measurements were lower in individuals with metabolic syndrome from abdominal obesity and increased waist size. Poor lung function was independently associated primarily with increased waist size.

One possible explanation for the findings is that abdominal obesity leads to mechanical interference, making it more difficult to expand the diaphragm and chest with increased waist size. Too much fat in the mid-section is also shown to promote inflammation, interfering with a variety of complex metabolic factors that also might lead to decreased lung function as waist size increases. "Adipose tissue may act as an additional source of systemic inflammation."

More studies may tell us exactly why lung function declines as our waistlines grow. For now, keeping our lung healthier seems to be another good reason to watch our waist size. Increased waist size is now linked to heart disease, diabetes, increased mortality from a variety of diseases, and, now, poor lung function.

Enright Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med.2009; 179: 432-433

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