Overweight people develop fat in their LUNGS and it can make it harder for them to breathe, scientists discover
- Fatty adipose tissue builds up in the airway walls of people with an elevated BMI
- Asthma and wheezing has long been linked with overweight and obese people
- But the reason behind this has not been clear, some studies suggest excess load
- This study from Perth, Australia, is first to discover the presence of fatty adipose
Overweight people develop fat in their lungs which can make it harder for them to breathe, scientists have discovered.
Respiratory problems such as asthma have long been linked to those with a high BMI but the reason for this has never been clear.
Past research has suggested that the lungs become compressed under the excess load being exerted upon them.
For the first time, a study by Australian researchers has found that fatty tissue clogs up the airway walls and restrict the supply of oxygen.
Asthma and wheezing has long been linked to those with a high BMI but the reason for this has never been clear (file photo)
Fatty adipose cells are seen to clog up the airway walls of the of the lungs, making the airway thicker and contributing to breathing problems in overweight and obese people
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the University of Western Australia in Perth found that excess adipose tissue – the medical name for body fat – swelled the thickness of the airway walls and caused them to become inflamed.
The scientists, led by John Elliot, analysed 52 post-mortem lungs which had been donated to the Airway Tissue Biobank.
Of these lungs, 15 belonged to people who did not suffer asthma, 21 who had asthma but died of other causes, and 16 who died of asthma.
A total 1,373 airways were examined under the microscope using dyes to expose any fatty tissue.
The amount of fatty tissue was then compared to each person’s BMI when they had been alive.
A study from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the University of Western Australia in Perth found a correlation between the build-up of fatty tissue and a person’s BMI
The sample’s BMI ranged from 15 to 45. BMI in a healthy range is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Results showed a positive correlation between the build up of fatty tissue in the airway walls and an individual’s BMI.
Those who had suffered asthma also had fat accumulation in their arteries.
Professor Thierry Troosters, president of the European Respiratory Society, hailed the paper’s findings, which are published in the European Respiratory Journal.
He said: ‘This is an important finding on the relationship between body weight and respiratory disease because it shows how being overweight or obese might be making symptoms worse for people with asthma.’
Almost a third of adults in England fall under the obese category, which is a BMI of 30 and above.
A further 37 per cent are overweight, with a BMI between 25 and 29.9.
In the US, a staggering 38 per cent of adults are obese.
More than one in ten who are obese have asthma, compared to seven per cent of a normal weight range, according to the American Lung Association
They suggest people who are overweight don’t respond as well to medication or have other condition that worsen asthma, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Asthma is a common but incurable condition which affects the small tubes inside the lungs. It can cause them to become inflamed, or swollen, which restricts the airways and makes it harder to breathe.
A total of 5.4million people in the UK are affected, and 25million in the US.