BACKGROUND--Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, digestive diseases, and some cancers. Several studies have shown that excess weight or weight gain is related to pulmonary dysfunction, but this issue needs to be further clarified. METHODS--The analysis was based on data of the Humboldt cohort study which was conducted in the town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada. The baseline survey in 1977 included 1202 adults, comprising 94% of all residents aged 25-59 years. Of these, 709 (59%) were followed up in 1983. Pulmonary function (forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and maximal mid expiratory flow rate (MMFR) and weight were measured in both surveys. Weight gain was determined by subtracting weight at baseline from weight at follow up. A residual analysis was used to examine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) at baseline, weight gain, and pulmonary function decline. RESULTS--Both BMI at baseline and weight gain were significantly related to pulmonary function at follow up. The effect of weight gain during the study period, however, was more prominent. The results showed that both mean residual FVC and FEV1 were highest in the group that gained < 1.0 kg, lowest in the group that gained > or = 4.0 kg, and intermediate in the group that gained 1.0-3.9 kg in both men and women after taking age, BMI at baseline, and smoking into account. The effect of weight gain on pulmonary function was greater in men than in women. Multiple regression analysis showed that each kilogram of weight gain was associated with an excess loss of 26 ml in FVC and 23 ml in FEV1 in men, and 14 ml and 9 ml respectively in women. CONCLUSIONS--Weight gain is significantly related to lung dysfunction. The effect of weight gain on pulmonary function is greater in men than in women.
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