Teen Obesity Linked to Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is an issue that affects all ages. People typically associate the condition with older generations. However, teenage kids are also at risk. Obesity is a major contributor to sleep apnea. Therefore, the rise in teen obesity means a rise in teen sleep apnea.

How Are Sleep Apnea and Teen Obesity Connected?

Sleep apnea and obesity can be symptoms or signs of one another. A person with OSA will have reduced quality in sleep. Poor sleep can lead to uncontrolled eating, or lack of energy to exercise, therefore, a weight gain is sure to happen. On the other hand, an obese person will experience sleep issues due to the extra weight putting stress on the lungs and chest cavity.

“If you have sleep apnea, this will impact the quality of your sleep, and make it harder for you to control your eating or exercise. During the day you might binge on foods because you’re tired and you want to stay awake. So sleep apnea really brings you in this kinds of vicious circle where if you have obesity and develop sleep apnea, it becomes difficult to lose weight and to get away from your sleep apnea.”

Dr. Nicholas Chadi, Munk School of Global Affairs

CBC News. “Teen Obesity and Sleep Apnea Can Be Connected Problems, Pediatrician Says.” Www.cbc.ca, 16 Nov. 2016, www.cbc.ca/news/health/teens-obesity-sleep-apnea-1.3853491.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea in Teens is Hard

Trying to figure out what is going on with a teenager is near impossible, especially when the issue is something like sleep apnea. Its difficult enough trying to diagnose an adult. The symptoms of OSA are vast and common for many other less severe conditions.

Teenagers constantly complain about being tired; its difficult to know whether or not they are just being typically lazy. A parent may mistake fatigue, problems concentrating, or depressive behavior as “typical teenage issues” rather than symptoms of sleep apnea.

How to Fix the Problem

The best way to fix both issues is to lose weight, simple as that. Regular exercise and weight lose will lead to better health, and better sleep! Teens have a tendency of spending hours in front of screens rather than doing physical activities. That lifestyle will take them on a path of lifelong health issues.

Treatment for the sleep apnea is another option. CPAP therapy is a popular choice for OSA patients. A device pumps air into your lungs to promote steady breathing. Another way is an implanted oral device that pushes the jaw forward for better breathing. Surgery to open the airway is another avenue, but not recommended for teens. Their jaws could change over time and reverse anything the procedure fixed.

About the Author


Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.