What is the Role of Obesity in COPD?

by | Sep 24, 2014 | COPD, Lifestyle

For years, you have joked around with family and friends that there is no way you could ever choose just one food item to eat if you ever had the misfortune to be stranded on a deserted island. You love all food. But the top of your favorites list includes food such as ribs, bacon double-cheeseburger and fries, hot fudge sundaes and if one factors in beverages, beer. You’re not going to lie. You know none are good for you, and it’s no surprise that your weight has pushed you into the obese zone. Adding insult to injury, you also struggle to breathe so it is easy to avoid exercising. But recently, your physician gave you the grim news…you now have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) besides tipping the scales in the unhealthy and wrong direction. Is your weight and COPD connected? What is the role of obesity in COPD?

Obesity and COPD Explained

Let’s face the fact: excess weight is not good for our health any way you look at it. But when you are considered to be obese and your lung health has been negatively affected, it might be time to address both concerns.

What makes someone obese or not? Obesity is a condition in which an individual has an excessive amount of body fat to the degree that overall health is negatively impacted. Measuring body mass index (BMI) is the method in which obesity is evaluated and looks at the relationship between height and weight. You can easily calculate your BMI with this online tool. A person is considered obese if his or her body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Nevertheless, since BMI is only a measure of weight in relation to height and does not directly measure body fat, a person’s BMI can be in the obese range without him or her actually being obese.

When someone suffers from COPD, they battle constantly to breathe. COPD is defined as a progressive lung disease in which airflow is restricted into and out of the lungs. It is also used as an umbrella term for those who suffer from the signs and symptoms of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

The Role of Obesity in COPD

In recent years as obesity has evolved into a global epidemic, more and more research has been conducted to shed some light with regard to its connections with other diseases. Hence, there have been quite a number of studies that have looked into the role of obesity in COPD. Why? After heart disease and cancer, COPD is the number three cause of death in the United States.

Published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a group at the University of Regensburg evaluated for 10 years close to 115,000 individuals who did not have COPD at the beginning of the study. However, a decade later, 3 percent of the total patient pool (3,600) had been diagnosed with COPD. The researchers unearthed the following: an increased risk of COPD could be attributed to waist size.

A Dutch study discovered another aspect to obesity’s role in COPD with results printed in Thorax. In obese individuals, there was evidence of altered fat tissue function, which negatively affected the inflammatory response. This group believed that in people with COPD these issues were more pronounced, and so suggested that future research look further into the interaction between abnormal fat tissue function and the inflammation that occurs with COPD.

Based on the known fact that it decreases lung function, a recent study decided to test another theory as to obesity’s role in COPD. The results can be found in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which show that despite the fact that obesity has a protective effect against death in COPD, it is the nutritional intake and diet that has the more significant role.

COPD is a life-threatening illness that can’t be cured, but it can be effectively treated. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are crucial to helping control symptoms of COPD. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with COPD, then contact us at the Lung Health Institute or call 888-745-6697 today.

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