Weight gain associated with accelerated lung function decline in adulthood

Weight gain associated with accelerated lung function decline in adulthood

News from ISGlobal

Lung function declines naturally over the course of the human lifespan. However, this decline is steeper in individuals who experience moderate or high weight gain. This was the conclusion of a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), which analysed the effect of weight changes on respiratory health over a 20-year period.

The study was based on data collected from 3,700 participants living in different countries in Europe and in Australia and recruited between the ages of 20 and 44 years. Participants repeatedly underwent measurements of weight and lung function — by means of spirometry — between 1991 and 2014. "Although previous research has shown that weight gain is linked to lung function decline, ours is the first study to analyse such a varied population sample over a longer period of time", commented Judith Garcia Aymerich, leader of the study and head of the Non-communicable Diseases and Environment programme at ISGlobal. Most earlier studies have had relatively short follow-up periods — ten years at the most — and focused on adults up to 50 years of age.

The study found that people with a body mass index within the recommended rates, overweight people and obese people all experienced accelerated lung function decline when they gained weight. Conversely, weight loss helped to attenuate lung function decline in obese people. Moreover, people who kept their weight low throughout adulthood exhibited a much less pronounced decline in respiratory health.


Gabriela P. Peralta, Alessandro Marcon, Anne-Elie Carsin et alBody mass index and weight change are associated with adult lung function trajectories: the prospective ECRHS study. Thorax. February 2020.

More information:
ISGlobal website