Purpose: Clinical and epidemiologic investigations suggest a strong association between obesity and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the currently available literature reporting on the effectiveness of dietary weight loss in treating OSA among obese patients.
Methods: Relevant studies were identified by computerized searches of PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials through September 2011 as well as the reference lists of all obtained articles. Information on study design, patient characteristics, pre- and post-dietary weight loss measures of OSA and body mass index (BMI), and study quality was obtained. Data were extracted by two independent analysts. Weighted averages using a random-effects model are reported with 95 % confidence intervals.
Results: Nine articles representing 577 patients were selected. Dietary weight loss program resulted in a pooled mean BMI reduction of 4.8 kg/m(2) (95 % confidence interval [CI] 3.8-5.9). The random-effects pooled apnea hypopnea (AHI) indices at pre- and post-dietary intervention were 52.5 (range 10.0-91.0) and 28.3 events/h (range 5.4-64.5), respectively (p < 0.001). Compared to control, the weighted mean difference of AHI was decreased by -14.3 events/h (95 % CI -23.5 to -5.1; p = 0.002) in favor of the dietary weight loss programs.
Conclusions: Dietary weight loss programs are effective in reducing the severity of OSA but not adequate in relieving all respiratory events. Weight reduction programs should be considered as adjunct rather than curative therapy.