Obesity is a Contributor of Chronic Snoring

Obesity is a Reason for Chronic Snoring

According to The Center for Disease Control, obesity has hit epidemic proportions with more than 25% of Americans being obese[1]. Obesity brings with it many health-related problems that can be controlled and reduced with proper rest and diet. One such problem is obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep-disordered breathing condition. Understanding obesity, improving one’s diet, and using a continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) machine can help one overcome obstructive sleep apnea.

Over-weight and Obesity

“Obesity is an excess proportion of total body fat. A person is obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above normal weight. The most common measure of obesity is the body mass index or BMI. A person is overweight if his or her BMI is between 25 and 29.9; a person is considered obese if his or her BMI is over 30.”[2] Individuals with a BMI of 40 or greater are considered morbidly obese.

“Obstructive sleep apnea was thought to be a disorder primarily of overweight, older men. But abnormal breathing during sleep can affect people of any age and either sex, and at least 30% of those affected are not obese.”[3]

When the body receives more calories than it can use, the body begins to store the calories for later use. For most eating too much and exercising too little leads to obesity. According to WebMD[2], the following factors also contribute to obesity:

  • Age – “As you get older, your body’s ability to metabolize food slows down and you do not require as many calories to maintain your weight.”
  • Gender – Changes and conditions in the body differ across genders. For example, men burn more calories in a rest state and women’s metabolism slows after menopause.
  • Genetics – “Obesity (and thinness) tends to run in families.”
  • Environmental factors – “Environmental factors include lifestyle behaviors such as what a person eats and how active he or she is.”
  • Physical activity – “Much of the increase in obesity in the last 20 years is thought to have resulted from the decreased level of daily physical activity.”
  • Psychological factors – “Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger.”
  • Illness – “Hormone problems such as hypothyroidism (poorly acting thyroid slows metabolism), depression, and some rare diseases of the brain that can lead to overeating.”
  • Medication – “Certain drugs, such as steroids and some antidepressants, may cause excessive weight gain.”

Improving One’s Diet

“It’s simply a matter of intake versus output,” says cardiologist Joseph Klapper, M.D., author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Metabolism. “Consume more calories than your metabolism needs, and you’ll gain weight.”

Over-eating can be a result of physical, psychological, and environmental factors.

“The hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls appetite) may not be sending correct message about hunger and fullness.”[4] Other physical factors and conditions can lead to over-eating.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, depression, low self-esteem, loneliness and dissatisfaction with one’s body can all lead to binge eating.[5] Environmental factors such as friends, parents, sexual abuse, among other sociological and cultural causes can lead to over-eating.[4]

According to Michael Dansinger, MD, nutrition doctor for The Biggest Loser, past failures of dieting should be no reason to not keep trying. Many diets exist but no one diet is right for everyone. Diets often fail because of a lack of commitment, support structure, or improper preparation. Dansinger states, “If you’re ready to record your reasons on paper and ready to pick a start date, then you’re ready to try again.”[6]

WebMD lists losing weight and improve your eating habits as the first option to overcome occasional snoring. If one has improved his or her diet and lost weight and continues snoring, one should consult a physician to determine if an underlying problem exists.[7]

Successful dieting or weight control begins with being able to record one’s reasons on paper and choosing a start date. While this is a good start, one has several other things you need to do. Foremost, one must have a support system in place to provide morale and keep one on task.

WebMD.com offers eleven simple steps to a healthier diet. (http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/11-simple-steps-to-a-healthier-diet)

CPAP and Losing Weight

Snoring is a result of physical obstructions inhibiting the flow of air through the mouth and nose. As the air passes through the airway, the obstructions in the throat begin to vibrate. This vibration produces the distinctive sound of snoring. Many factors can lead to obstructions in the airway, including:

  • Obstructed nasal airways: Partially obstructed nasal passages require additional efforts during the inhalation and exhalation processes. This extra effort causes the soft tissue to collapse and flap as the air passes over the soft tissue.
  • Poor muscle tone: Overly relaxed tongue muscles can allow the tongue to fall back into the airway.
  • Bulky throat tissue: Obesity can cause the soft tissue in the airway to become bulky or oversized and therefore constricting the airway passage. Children that have oversized tonsils and adenoids often snore as a result of the bulky tissue falling into the airway.
  • Long soft palate and/or uvula: The palate is the roof of the mouth. The uvula is the dangling tissue in back of the mouth. Vibration of these two areas combined with bumping against each other during sleep leads to obstructions to the airway.

The continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) machine itself does not directly affect one’s weight. However, a continuous positive airflow pressure does force the soft tissues back against the airway walls allowing the user to sleep more restfully. The obstruction is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).

Obstructive sleep apnea can cause one to awaken many times during the night. OSA can also lead to one ceasing to breathe during sleep. The amount and severity of snoring is a direct indicator of how severe the OSA is. The more severe the OSA the more important it is that treatment is sought.

CPAP machines offer patients the opportunity to get restful and restorative sleep. The ability to receive a restful and restorative sleep can help improve one’s health and metabolism. As the metabolism increases more calories are used and fewer calories are taken in, a healthy metabolism will begin to burn the excess calories that the body stores.


A healthy body can be reached through the use of a CPAP machine, proper diet and understanding how obesity negatively affects one’s health. As one’s weight approaches the body’s normal weight the need for the CPAP machine may decrease. Even when the body’s optimal weight is achieve one should maintain a proper diet so the obesity problem does not return.


  1. Center for Disease Control “Overweight and Obesity Data and Statistics” http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/index.html
  2. WebMD “Obesity” http://www.webmd.com/diet/what-is-obesity
  3. WebMD “Understanding Sleep Problems – The Basics” http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/understanding-sleep-problems-basics?page=2
  4. HelpGuide.org “Binge Eating Disorder” http://www.helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Binge Eating Disorder” http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/binge-eating-disorder.cfm
  6. WebMD “Expert Q&A: Losing a Lot of Weight” http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/expert-qa-losing-a-lot-of-weight-michael-dansinger-md
  7. WebMD “Sleep and Snoring” Pg2 http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/snoring?page=2

The CPAP Shop (www.thecpapshop.com) a provider of CPAP products including CPAP machines, BiPAP machines, and Auto-Adjusting CPAP machines.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop


Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…

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