Heavier Men May Risk Poor Lung Function

Older men who are overweight may be at greater risk of impaired lung function, especially if they carry extra fat around the middle, according to research from the University of Verona in Italy. In the study of 97 men in their 60’s and 70’s, those with more body fat and greater abdominal girth scored lower on tests of lung function than less rotund men. In particular, they were not able to expel as much air from their lungs. In contrast, men with a higher muscle mass had better lung function. Both smokers and nonsmokers showed similar results.

Higher body fat and, particularly, fat concentrated in the abdomen may compromise lung function by physically straining the diaphragm and chest wall. Though lung function typically declines with age, this study suggests that that older men may better preserve lung capacity by keeping fit to prevent age-related increases in body fat and declining muscle mass.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2001.

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