Sleep Apnea and Weight

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Story Updated: Feb 19, 2014

Could just a little bit of weight loss help keep obstructive sleep apnea under control?

Yes, according to Finnish researchers.

Investigators point to the results of a small study published in the journal Sleep Medicine that suggests that when moderately obese apnea patients lose just 5% of their body weight they can stop early-stage disease from getting worse.

Starting in 2004, researchers tracked about 50 moderately obese patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea between the ages of 18 and 65.

Half were enrolled in a 1-year hands-on dietary and exercise program while the rest were given general lifestyle information during routine care visits.

The goal? To shed weight by keeping fat to 30% or less of total calorie intake.

After 5 years, the team found that patients who had shed and kept off 5% of their body weight achieved an 80% drop in apnea progression compared with those who hadn't.

The findings highlight weight loss as a key weapon in the fight against a chronic illness long-linked to heart disease risk.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the health news that matters to you.

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