Influence of body fat distribution on oxygen uptake and pulmonary performance in morbidly obese females during exercise

Respirology. 2001 Mar;6(1):9-13. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1843.2001.00290.x.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the effects of fat distribution on aerobic and ventilatory response to exercise testing in morbidly obese (MO) females.

Methodology: The study population consisted of 164 MO females, 55% (n = 90) with upper body or abdominal adiposity (UBD), as defined by waist-hip circumference ratio (WHR) > or = 0.80, and 45% (n = 74) with lower body fat distribution (LBD) (WHR < 0.80). An incremental exercise testing on cycle ergometer was performed to determine the effect of exercise on oxygen consumption (VO2), carbon dioxide production (VCO2), minute ventilation (VE), tidal volume (VT), respiratory rate (fb) and heart rate (HR).

Results: Upper body adiposity individuals had significantly higher VO2 and VCO2 than LBD subjects (P < 0.05) from 0 watt (W) of pedalling up to their anaerobic threshold (AT) and maximal exercise. VE was significantly higher in UBD subjects compared with LBD subjects, from 20 W during exercise up to AT and peak work levels (P < 0.05). Upper body adiposity group also had a significantly higher fb than the LBD group at rest, after each workload and at AT and peak exercise work rates (P < 0.05). VT was lower in UBD subjects at free pedalling and up to AT and peak workload with significant difference at 60 and 80 W (P < 0.05). The anaerobic threshold, expressed as work rate, was significantly lower in the UBD subjects (P < 0.05) and peak workload achieved did not differ significantly between the two groups.

Conclusions: Upper body adiposity subjects had higher oxygen requirement, more rapid and shallow breathing, higher ventilatory demand, but lower anaerobic threshold than the LBD individuals during progressive exercise. It suggests that the cardiopulmonary endurance to exercise in MO patients with upper body fat distribution is lower than in those with lower body fat distribution.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition*
  • Ergometry
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid / physiopathology*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mechanics*


  • Oxygen