Losing weight is an effective way to treat the obesity-related condition known as “metabolic syndrome” as well as apnea and other sleep-related breathing maladies, according to new research involving seriously overweight children.
The study, presented by Belgian researchers at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference in San Francisco, noted metabolic syndrome is becoming increasingly common in the United States. It is generally diagnosed when people have extra abdominal weight, high cholesterol, insulin resistance and other factors.
"[Sleep-disordered breathing] is highly prevalent in childhood obesity, and may be a risk factor for the metabolic syndrome,” said lead researcher Dr. Stijn Verhulst, director of the pediatric sleep lab at the Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium. "After weight loss, all metabolic parameters improved, and just 24 of the study group had residual SDB."
Verhulst said researchers findings were based on experiments involving 224 obese children and adolescents. About 30 had sleep-related breathing problems as well as several conditions related to metabolic syndrome. For a six-month period, the children participated in a weight loss program that incorporated dietary changes, increased physical activity and psychological support.
On average, the participants lost about 15 percent of their body weight over the course of the study, leading to improvements in sleep, lower cholesterol levels and other health benefits.