Wednesday, April 7, 2010

His and Hers: Body Fat Varies Between the Sexes

A new study published in the journal SLEEP shows that body fat can predict obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity, but that its predictive value varies depending on gender.

Excess body fat increases your risk for OSA. But depending on your sex, where fat is located in your body holds important information.

The study included 36 women and 60 men. The participants had similar waste sizes and body mass indexes (BMI).

The researchers looked at the people’s age, sex, Epworth Sleepiness Score (ESS) and BMI. Body surface and upper airway measurements were also taken.

Each participant took a sleep test and DXA scan. Dual Energy Absorptiometry (DXA) Scanning measures a person’s percentage of fat and lean tissue, and bone density.

The researchers found that the best way to predict the disorder was through DXA scans. They also found that how well fat predicted severe OSA varied between men and women and depended on where the fat resided.

In men, abdominal fat best predicted severe OSA. Neck circumference was associated with severe OSA in both sexes, but especially for men. Neck fat was predictive in women, but not men.

A narrow airway was particularly useful in screening for severe OSA in women. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale was better in predicting severe OSA in men than in women.

Image by Alexandra Moss

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