In COPD, A Link between Obesity and Worse Outcomes (more shortness of breath, poor Quality of Life, and reduced walking distance)
Background: Although obesity is common in the United States (see post on January 1, 2017 under COPD News), the association between obesity and worse outcomes in those with COPD is unclear.
Study: Dr. Allison Lambert, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues analyzed information on 3,631 participants in the COPDGene study. A body mass index of 30 or higher was used to define obesity. The findings were published in the January 2017 issue of the journal CHEST (volume 151; pages 68-77).
Findings: Overall, 35% of participants in the study were obese – which is identical to the general population in the United States. Increasing obesity was associated with worse quality of life, reduced distance walked in six minutes, more shortness of breath, and greater odds of a severe exacerbation (sudden worsening) of COPD.
Conclusions: The authors concluded that obesity is common among individuals with COPD and is associated with worse outcomes. These include more shortness of breath with activities, poor quality of life, shorter distance walked in six minutes, and more frequent severe exacerbations.
My Comments: If you have COPD and are obese, I strongly encourage you to lose weight. Certainly, losing weight is hard work especially with food being a focus of celebrations including birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc. Studies show that the most effective way to lose weight is a combination of
eating fewer calories and an exercise program. Regular exercise can burn some calories, but its major effect with weight loss is to increase the metabolic rate (which burns more calories throughout the day). Participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program is a great way to start an exercise routine. Talking to a nutritionist may help you select healthy and low calorie foods.