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Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Feb;9(1):4-9. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32831d8184.

Risk factors and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea amongst obese children and adults.

Author information

  • Discipline of Paediatrics, University of Adelaide, Women's and Children's Hospital, South Australia, Australia. mark.kohler@adelaide.edu.au



The purpose of this review is to summarize the evidence for the association between obesity and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), as well as predisposing risk factors and treatment strategies for OSA amongst obese patients.


Recent findings highlight a number of factors including sex, age, upper airway structure and ethnicity, which may predispose patients to OSA when obese. Both invasive and noninvasive weight-reduction strategies also show positive signs of being an effective means to reduce or remediate OSA amongst obese adults and children.


In view of recent findings, a direct association between body mass and upper airway obstruction should be viewed with caution. Obesity may play a more significant role in the predisposition to OSA amongst particular subgroups of the population, such as adults, and those with particular craniofacial and upper airway morphology. Healthcare prioritization and requirements may be more substantial for such groups. Further, commonly used treatment methods for OSA (such as adenotonsillectomy for children and continuous positive airway pressure for adults) may be less effective for obese individuals. Weight-reduction strategies appear important for an optimal outcome, and such strategies may be more or less invasive depending on the severity of obesity, OSA or both, and other patient complications.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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