New Research Shows Low Energy Diet Benefits Sleep Apnoea

A new study published in the British Medical Journal this month has shown that a very low energy diet can have long-term benefits for sleep apnoea sufferers.

It is already known that obstructive sleep apnoea is associated with several adverse outcomes, including impaired cognitive function, vehicle crashes and occupational injuries, and death.

Randomised controlled trials have recently shown that weight loss improves obstructive sleep apnoea in overweight and obese patients.   The long term effect of weight loss has been studied only in people with mild obstructive sleep apnoea and in older patients with type 2 diabetes.

“Of all people with obstructive sleep apnea, an estimated 60-70% are either overweight or obese,” writes Kari Johansson, PhD student in the Obesity Unit, Department of Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues. “Given the close association between obstructive sleep apnoea and obesity, weight loss has been advocated as a primary treatment option in obese patients with sleep apnoea…. Despite an improving case for the robust treatment effect of weight loss in obstructive sleep apnoea, concerns remain regarding the long term maintenance of improvements, especially after rapid weight loss with a very low energy diet.”

Study conclusions:

  • The initial improvements in apnoea-hypopnoea index after nine weeks of a very low energy diet (−58%) were largely maintained at the one year follow-up (−47%)

  • At one year, 48% (30/63) no longer required continuous positive airway pressure and 10% (six/63) had total remission of obstructive sleep apnoea

  • Patients who lost the most in weight or had severe sleep apnoea at baseline benefited most

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  1. Lee’s avatar

    This is an interesting exeiepmrnt/fad diet. I have had personal and observational experiences with fad diets and controversial methods of losing weight. One thing I like about the Twinkie Diet is that it proves the bottom line, that it does not matter how many points you eat, or how many servings of each food group; the bottom line is that Americans consume too many calories, and do not exercise enough. The Twinkie Diet emphasizes that the body is a machine, that needs a specific amount of fuel and a specific amount of activity, and when these requirements are not met, this results in weight fluctuation. I am not saying people should follow the Twinkie Diet, but I do think they need to take away the message that weight loss and health improvement is not impossible. Dieting and exercise is discouraging, so if an individual can use the Twinkie Diet as a skeleton to find a meal plan that is feasible to achieve, without feeling deprived and starved, it could be very useful. For example, Haub’s plan included vegetables, vitamins, and protein shakes. Instead of Oreos and Doritos, maybe an individual could create the appropriate caloric portion of foods like pizza, sandwiches, or pasta, that are not junk food, or associated health foods, but they still provide more balanced food groups and follow the calorie counting principle. I have done many fad diets, and one common theme is that every diet makes me feel deprived of some sort of food group. The Twinkie Diet is an interesting exeiepmrnt that surfaces this problem that fad diets have with limitations.



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