Can weight loss ‘cure’ sleep apnea?

Joensuu, Finland – Sustaining a moderate amount of weight loss could help prevent the progression of obstructive sleep apnea – or even eliminate it, indicates a new study from the University of Eastern Finland.

The study involved 57 moderately obese people with sleep apnea. Participants were divided into two groups. One group received a 12-month lifestyle intervention, while the other was provided with general information about diet and physical activity. Researchers followed up on the participants five years later.

Losing as little as 5 percent of body weight was associated with a decreased risk of sleep apnea progression. Participants with the largest weight loss had an 80 percent decrease in the occurrence of worsening sleep apnea, which suggests sustained weight loss may even help “cure” mild cases of sleep apnea, according to the study abstract.

The study was published online Feb. 3 in the journal Sleep Medicine.