Expiratory flow limitation and breathing strategies in overweight adolescents during submaximal exercise

Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Jan;38(1):22-6. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.137. Epub 2013 Jul 31.


Objective: To investigate whether ventilatory factors limit exercise in overweight and obese children during a 6-min step test and to compare ventilatory responses during this test with those of healthy weight children.

Design: Cross-sectional, prospective comparative study.

Subjects: Twenty-six overweight/obese subjects and 25 healthy weight subjects with no known respiratory illness.

Measurements: Various fatness and fat distribution parameters (using air displacement plethysmography and anthropometry), pulmonary function tests, breath-by-breath gas analysis during exercise, perceived exertion.

Results: Young people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience expiratory flow limitation (expFL) during submaximal exercise compared with their healthy weight peers [OR 7.2 (1.4, 37.3), P=0.019]. Subjects who had lower lung volumes at rest were even more likely to experience exercise-induced expFLs [OR 8.35 (1.4-49.3)]. Both groups displayed similar breathing strategies during submaximal exercise.

Conclusion: Young people who are overweight/obese are more likely to display expFL during submaximal exercise compared with children of healthy weight . Use of compensatory breathing strategies appeared to enable overweight children to avoid the experience of breathlessness at this intensity of exercise.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyspnea / etiology*
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology
  • Dyspnea / prevention & control
  • Exercise Test*
  • Exercise Tolerance*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications*
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Ventilation*
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires