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Obesity May Be Fueling Jump in Sleep Apnea Cases

Researcher calls troubled sleep an 'uncalculated cost' of America's weight epidemic

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What to do? If you don't feel rested after sleeping, Peppard said, talk to your doctor.

The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable. One treatment, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), is a machine that blows air into the throat to keep it open while people sleep. "It's very effective, but some people don't like to use it," Peppard said.

There's another option that will help in many cases, he said: Weight loss.

Joyce Walsleben, an associate professor of medicine at New York University who studies sleep problems, agreed. "Obesity has to be addressed and controlled," said Walsleben. "That is a message for doctors and patients."

Although the study tied obesity to higher risk of having sleep apnea, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study appeared online recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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