Effect of treating obstructive sleep apnea by tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy on obesity in children

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999 Jan;153(1):33-7. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.153.1.33.


Background: Obstructive sleep apnea is common in obese children who have enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

Objective: To determine if treatment of obstructive sleep apnea by tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy will result in normalization of an obese child's weight, as it does in underweight children, and as it does with other signs and symptoms.

Design: Retrospective cohort study. We recorded weight and height changes after tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy and compared changes of the obese and morbidly obese patients with those of the other patients.

Setting: A tertiary care inner-city hospital.

Participants: Children (n = 45) who underwent tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy for obstructive sleep apnea in 1994-1995; their mean (+/-SD) age was 4.9+/-2.4 years at operation.

Results: At the time of surgery, 25 children were of normal weight; 3, underweight; 7, obese; and 10, morbidly obese. Postoperatively, 31 children (69%), including 10 of the 17 who were obese or morbidly obese, had substantial weight gain: the z score +/- SD for weight of the entire group increased from 1.37+/-2.49 to 2+/-2.27 (P<.001). The mean z score +/- SD for height increased from 0.03+/-1.08 to 0.58+/-0.94 (P<.001). The body mass index (BMI or Quetelet index): calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters increased in 28 patients (62%) (P = .004).

Conclusion: Treating obstructive sleep apnea by tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy is associated with increased gain in height, weight, and body mass index in most children, including the obese and morbidly obese.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications*
  • Obesity, Morbid / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Period
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / surgery*
  • Tonsillectomy*
  • Weight Gain