It is interesting what sells newspapers or turns eyeballs on the Internet...
The results of a recent study published in the professional journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology (Archives of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. 2008;134(12):1270-1275) presents information that people who snore burn more calories than people who don't.
Burning calories is good... if you can do it in your sleep, even better. But, if you look a little deeper you see why burning calories this way is not so good. The reason why overweight people are burning calories is that they trying to survive the equivalent of someone pushing a pillow over their face every couple of minutes while they sleep.
This would cause an increase in metabolic rate (in the form of an adrenaline rush) even in people of normal weight.
Bottom line... Read past the headline, snoring is not a new weight loss strategy.
What the news hounds missed was the announcement of a study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (2008;4(6):543-550). The study involved data mining (not very sexy, but then neither is snoring) records from 278 public and 180 private hospitals in Australia.
The dataset comprised more than one and half million hospital records. Four percent - 60,197 patients had sleep apnea with the male to female ratio of 2.6:1 (holding pretty true to the numbers published by Dr. Terry Young, et. al in 1993).
The analysis of the hospital admissions (over the period 1999 to 2004) indicate that OSA patients are frequent users of health-care services with most involving cardiovascular disease, endocrine/metabolic diseases (diabetes) and other respiratory diseases.
The researchers were able plot data showing that the onset and peak occurrences of sleep apnea and obesity are the same. Two other interesting findings: that from the onset of obesity there is a latent period of five years for the development of hypertension and type 2 diabetes and 15 years for chronic ischemic heart conditions and that there is a distinct occurence peak between the ages of 55 and 59.
They say "that any press is good press" and I would tend to agree because it helps to raise awareness about a serious medical condition that affects a significant percentage of the population. But given the choice of what should get the attention of the popular media I would have to say the results of the latter study are more important than the former... with all due respect to Dr. Kezirian and colleagues.
Back soon with an Open letter to Secretary-designate Tom Daschle