Lung function in obese children and adolescents without respiratory disease: a systematic review

BMC Pulm Med. 2020 Oct 28;20(1):281. doi: 10.1186/s12890-020-01306-4.


Background: Obesity in children and adolescents is associated with increased morbidity and mortality due to multisystemic impairment, including deleterious changes in lung function, which are poorly understood.

Objectives: To perform a systematic review to assess lung function in children and adolescents affected by obesity and to verify the presence of pulmonary changes due to obesity in individuals without previous or current respiratory diseases.

Methods: A systematic search was performed in the MEDLINE-PubMed (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online), Embase (Excerpta Medica Database) and VHL (Virtual Health Library/Brazil) databases using the terms "Lung Function" and "Pediatric Obesity" and their corresponding synonyms in each database. A period of 10 years was considered, starting in February/2008. After the application of the filters, 33 articles were selected. Using the PICOS strategy, the following information was achieved: (Patient) children and adolescents; (Intervention/exposure) obesity; (Control) healthy children and adolescents; (Outcome) pulmonary function alterations; (Studies) randomized controlled trial, longitudinal studies (prospective and retrospective studies), cross-over studies and cross-sectional studies.

Results: Articles from 18 countries were included. Spirometry was the most widely used tool to assess lung function. There was high variability in lung function values, with a trend towards reduced lung function markers (FEV1/FVC, FRC, ERV and RV) in obese children and adolescents.

Conclusion: Lung function, measured by several tools, shows numerous markers with contradictory alterations. Differences concerning the reported results of lung function do not allow us to reach a consensus on lung function changes in children and adolescents with obesity, highlighting the need for more publications on this topic with a standardized methodology.

Keywords: Lung function; Obesity in adolescence; Obesity in childhood; Review; Spirometry.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Spirometry