Over the years, people’s lung function decreases naturally. However, this decline is more pronounced in those cases where it occurs a weight gain, whether it is moderate or excessive. This is confirmed by a study led by the Institute of Global Health of Barcelona(ISGlobal), center driven by «la Caixa», which has analyzed the effect that they have the variations of people’s weight for your respiratory health along A period of twenty years.
Published in the magazine Thorax, the research is based on data from about 3,700 participants from different countries of Europe and Australia. These people were recruited when they were between 20 and 44 years old and, during the period 1991-2014, they were measured in repeatedly weighingas well as your lung function through tests of spirometry. Although there is previous research linking weight gain with worsening lung function, this is the first study that analyzes such a long period of time and such a varied population sample, ”he says. Judith Garcia Aymerich, study leader and head of the program Noncommunicable Diseases and Environment from ISGlobal. Previous studies include relatively short follow-up periods – a maximum of ten years – and most focus on adults up to fifty years of age.
According to the results, both people with a body mass index within the recommended levels and those who are overweight or obese suffer an acceleration of the decline in lung function when gaining weight. Conversely, this decline is attenuates people obesas They are losing weight over the years. On the other hand, those people who maintain a low weight throughout the adult stage show a much less pronounced respiratory health decline.
There are two mechanisms that could explain the association between weight gain and lung health. First, weight gain can affect the functioning of the lungs for mechanical reasons. «It is likely that abdominal fat and thoracic reduce the space for lung expansion during inspiration», Says Gabriela Prado Peralta, first author of the study and researcher of ISGlobal. Second, weight gain can affect lung function through inflammatory processes, since adipose tissue – the areas where fat accumulates – produces inflammatory substances that can damage lung tissue and reduce diameter of the airways.
Maintaining good lung function during adulthood is crucial to prevent chronic respiratory diseases, which today represent a serious public health problem globally. “Given the epidemic levels of overweight and obesity that we are reaching, it is essential to understand the effects of weight changes on lung function, a powerful indicator of morbidity and mortality in the population, ”says Garcia Aymerich. “The good news,” adds the researcher, “is that the negative effects of overweight and obesity on lung health can be reversed by losing weight. Therefore, public health policies that promote healthy lifestyles they can be the key to achieving a society with good lung health ».