Student Question

How does body weight affect breathing rate?

Expert Answers

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Overweight or obese people often complain of loud breathing or breathlessness, especially during sleep. We generally use the term BMI or body mass index to determine if someone is overweight or obese. BMI is the ratio of a person's body weight and square of their height (in meters). If the BMI is between 25 and 30 kg/m^2, the person is overweight and if BMI is more than 30 kg/m^2, the person is categorized as obese.

With excess body weight (more than what a normal healthy person should have), the body finds it difficult to carry out normal functions and hence such people experience breathlessness. In general, such people are also physically less active and tire more easily. Obese people also find it difficult to take deep breaths and hence the body has to compensate by taking a larger number of shallower breaths. This results in a higher breathing rate of obese and overweight people.

Hope this helps. 

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