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Sleep Disorders
Volume 2012, Article ID 163296, 11 pages
Review Article

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome and Weight Loss: Review

1Sleep Department, Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow G12 0YN, UK
2Respiratory Department, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow G31 2ER, UK

Received 9 November 2011; Accepted 9 January 2012

Academic Editor: Sophia Schiza

Copyright © 2012 Douglas C. Cowan and Eric Livingston. 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.


Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) syndrome is common, and obesity is a major risk factor. Increased peripharyngeal and central adiposity result in increased pharyngeal collapsibility, through increased mechanical loading around the upper airway, reduced tracheal traction on the pharynx, and reduced neuromuscular activity, particularly during sleep. Significant and sustained weight loss, if achieved, is likely to be a useful therapeutic option in the management of OSA and may be attempted by behavioural, pharmacological, and surgical approaches. Behavioural therapy programs that focus on aspects such as dietary intervention, exercise prescription patients and general lifestyle counselling have been tested. Bariatric surgery is an option in the severely obese when nonsurgical measures have failed, and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass are the most commonly employed techniques in the United Kingdom. Most evidence for efficacy of surgery comes from cohort studies. The role of sibutramine in OSA in the obese patients has been investigated, however, there are concerns regarding associated cardiovascular risk. In this paper the links between obesity and OSA are discussed, and the recent studies evaluating the behavioural, pharmacological and surgical approaches to weight loss in OSA are reviewed.