The association of obesity with sleep-associated respiratory disturbances, which has traditionally been described as a problem in adults, actually originates in childhood. We sought an association between sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and overweight and/or obesity in a large cohort of school- and preschool-aged children in Southern Italy.
One thousand two hundred seven children (612 girls and 595 boys; mean age 7.3 years) were screened by self-administered questionnaires. According to answers, subjects were divided into three groups: nonsnorers (NS), occasional snorers (OS), and habitual snorers (HS). All HS, who also failed an oximetry study at home, underwent polysomnographic monitoring for the definition of SDB. BMI was calculated according to Italian growth charts.
A total of 809 subjects (67.0%) were eligible for the study. Of them, 44 subjects (5.4%) were classified as HS, 138 (17.0%) as OS, and 627 (77.5%) as NS. Fourteen subjects (1.7%) were given a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). Sixty-four subjects (7.9%) were defined as obese, 121 (14.9%) as overweight, and 624 (77.2%) as normal weight. The frequency of HS was significantly higher in obese subjects than in overweight and normal-weight subjects (12.5% vs 5.8% vs 4.6%, respectively; P = .02), whereas the frequency of OSAS was 1.6% in normal-weight, 1.6% in overweight, and 3.1% in obese subjects (P = not significant).
Our findings in a large sample of Italian children suggest that obesity is associated with snoring.