Effects of body composition and fat distribution on ventilatory function in adults

Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Jul;68(1):35-41. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.1.35.


Clinically, gross obesity is associated with disturbances of ventilatory function, but less severe obesity is not generally thought to have a significant effect on ventilatory function. The purpose of this report was to examine cross-sectional data to determine the effects of body composition and fat distribution on ventilatory function in 1235 adults (621 men and 614 women). Forced vital capacity (FVC) was used as a measure of ventilatory function and was adjusted for age, height, smoking, and bronchial symptoms in separate models for men and women. Body fat and fat-free mass were estimated from skinfold-thickness measurements. Adjusted FVC was not significantly associated with body mass or body mass index, but was negatively associated with percentage body fat in men (P = 0.0003) and women (P = 0.043) and positively associated with fat-free mass in men (P = 0.018) and women (P = 0.0001). Handgrip strength was positively associated with adjusted FVC in both sexes (P < 0.02), suggesting that the effect of fat-free mass may be mediated by muscular strength. Adjusted FVC was negatively associated with subscapular-skinfold thickness in both sexes (P < 0.0003) and with waist circumference (P = 0.01) and waist-to-hip ratio (P = 0.03) in men. Previous reports that considered only body mass index or body mass failed to distinguish the opposing effects of fat-free mass and fat mass on FVC.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Smoking
  • Vital Capacity*