Obesity is considered a risk factor for asthma, but a new study suggests that wheezing and shortness of breath may be nothing more than signs of weight-stressed lungs.
Researchers at the University of Ottawa put 50 obese women (average weight: 250 pounds) on a 6-month diet; the women lost, on average, 44 pounds. For every 10 percent of body weight the women lost, they regained about 5 percent of their lung function; 25 percent weight loss boosted breathing power by 10 percent. Carrying lots of extra weight taxes breathing muscles, making them work harder and less effectively.
The result: restricted airflow in the lungs, which produces asthma-like symptoms. It’s possible that many obese people may be wrongly diagnosed with asthma, the researchers conclude.