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Obesity - Bad News for Breathing!


PRESS RELEASE
WEDNESDAY 16TH AUGUST 2006

Obesity - Bad News for Breathing!
(and lack of sleep may increase your weight)!

The Thoracic Society of Australia & New Zealand (TSANZ) appears before the Health Select Committee into Obesity & Diabetes on 16 August 2006 at 10.40 in Hamilton at the Airport Motor Inn.

TSANZ is concerned about the growing obesity problem in NZ. Obesity negatively impacts on sleep and breathing. Their submission details some challenging issues confronting clinicians faced with inadequate health resources and raises some possible solutions.

- Sleep related breathing disorders are an inevitable consequence of rising levels of obesity.
- Most people who suffer from sleep related breathing disorders are undiagnosed.
- Effective treatment is available and cost effective, but difficult to access.
- Clinical services are under utilised and under funded to cope with the growing problem.

The solutions are to be found in:

- Adequate health planning.
- Increased utilisation of existing sleep disorders services.
- Increased and improved healthcare resource allocation.
- Utilising key professional groups to provide direction.
- Enabling research into the problems and solutions.

Other key messages are:

- Obstructive sleep apnoea directly contributes to:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Motor vehicle crashes (2 – 7 fold increased risk)
- Poor productivity
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
- Diabetes
- Respiratory failure
- Untreated 5 year death rate of 13%

- Māori & Pacific Islanders as well as New Zealanders living in areas with a high NZ Deprivation Index are disproportionately affected.
- Previously a disease of adults, we are now seeing more children affected –teenagers with morbid obesity (weight 140 kg!) causing respiratory failure needing ventilation at home.
- Lack of sleep itself (secondary to a busy lifestyle, etc.) appears to contribute directly to obesity and diabetes.
- Sleep services around the country are limited, under funded and under utilised (because of capped funding).
- Access to sleep services is not equitable around NZ.
- Current (2005) DHB spending is only $ 1.59/person/year

ENDS

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