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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 2012, Article ID 134202, 8 pages
Review Article

Childhood Obesity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Division of Respiratory Medicine, The Hospital For Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1X8

Received 29 May 2012; Accepted 31 July 2012

Academic Editor: Dominique Bouglé

Copyright © 2012 Indra Narang and Joseph L. Mathew. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The global epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity and its immediate as well as long-term consequences for obese individuals and society as a whole cannot be overemphasized. Obesity in childhood and adolescence is associated with an increased risk of adult obesity and clinically significant consequences affecting the cardiovascular and metabolic systems. Importantly, obesity is additionally complicated by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), occurring in up to 60% of obese children. OSA, which is diagnosed using the gold standard polysomnogram (PSG), is characterised by snoring, recurrent partial (hypopneas) or complete (apneas) obstruction of the upper airway. OSA is frequently associated with intermittent oxyhemoglobin desaturations, sleep disruption, and sleep fragmentation. There is emerging data that OSA is associated with cardiovascular burden including systemic hypertension, changes in ventricular structure and function, arterial stiffness, and metabolic syndromes. Thus, OSA in the context of obesity may independently or synergistically magnify the underlying cardiovascular and metabolic burden. This is of importance as early recognition and treatment of OSA in obese children are likely to result in the reduction of cardiometabolic burden in obese children. This paper summarizes the current state of understanding of obesity-related OSA. Specifically, this paper will discuss epidemiology, pathophysiology, cardiometabolic burden, and management of obese children and adolescents with OSA.