According to a new study, people who are attempting to control their sleep apnea by cutting calories may be successful. The study showed that making a modest cut to caloric intake resulted in appreciable benefits for sleep apnea, blood pressure, and weight loss. However, it should be noted that many people have a hard time losing weight, especially if they are suffering from common effects of sleep apnea, such as low energy and hormonal imbalance.
Moderate Dieting over a Long Period
In the study, researchers recruited 21 obese people aged 20 to 55. Patients were assigned randomly to one of two groups. One group maintained their current diet. The other group cut their calorie intake by 800 Calories a day. After 16 weeks both groups were evaluated for sleep apnea again.
Researchers found that the dieting group had indeed lost weight, and experienced significant benefits in terms of their sleep apnea. The dieting group had fewer apneic events, had better blood oxygen levels, and had lower blood pressure.
Researchers said this was proof that moderate energy restriction could lead to significant health gains and sleep apnea control. Moderate is relative, of course, but seems reasonable in this case. The average daily energy intake in Brazil is 3456 Calories. If these subjects were taking in that amount of energy, this would be a 23% cut in Calories, but would still leave them with a dietary intake of 2656, well above the 2500 that is recommended as a healthy diet for men or the 2000 recommended for women.
Although we know that weight loss is an important strategy for tackling sleep apnea, it’s important to make sure it works. This study provides additional evidence that this is among the effective strategies we can use to combat sleep apnea in the US and around the world, and bolsters the recommendation from the ACP that weight loss should be the first strategy used to control sleep apnea. For many people, though, losing weight is easier said than done. We often recommend that people start sleep apnea treatment, which can help them lose weight and provides immediate health and quality of life benefits.
It’s also important that we have a variety of approaches for treating sleep apnea so we find the ones that are most effective in every case.