Lauren Crane

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Previous research has shown that one in three otherwise healthy obese adults experience dyspnea on exertion (DOE). Both dyspnea and obesity can have a negative influence on a person’s health related quality of life (HRQOL). However, it is unclear if these relationships can be found in otherwise healthy mild-to-moderately obese men. In this study, we examined the relationship between 1) obesity and HRQOL, and 2) dyspnea on exertion (DOE) and HRQOL. A secondary analysis was conducted from the baseline data of an interventional 12-week weight loss study. Volunteers filled out the Medical Outcomes Short Form-36 (SF36) as the measurement for HRQOL. The SF-36 consists of eight domains that measure: physical functioning, role limitations due to physical problems, bodily pain, general health perceptions, vitality, social functioning, role limitations due to emotional problems, and emotional well-being. Each domain has a score of 0-100, where the highest scores indicate a better HRQOL. Obesity was determined from measurement percent body fat obtained by underwater weighing or DEXA scan and BMI. BMI had to be between 30-50 kg/m2 during screening and percent body fat had to be > 30% but < 50% to be included in the study. Lastly, during a six-minute submaximal constant load exercise cycling test at 105 watts, participants provided ratings of perceived breathlessness (RPB; Borg Scale 0-10) as a measure of DOE (rating at min six of exercise). Forty-one men (age: 34 + 6 yr, BMI: 36 ± 5 kg/m2, percent body fat: 38 ± 5 %) participated. The mean RPB during minute six of the exercise was three (SD= 1.63). The strongest negative correlations were between percent body fat and social functioning (r= -0.530, p= 0.000), BMI and physical functioning (r = -0.423, p= 0.006), and RPB and physical functioning (r= -0.379, p= 0.015). Our findings support that there is a negative impact on domains of an individual ‘s HRQOL. In specific, we found that there is a reduced physical functioning when an individual has an increase in BMI and DOE. In addition, social functioning is reduced when an individual has an increase in percent body fat. Therefore, reduced physical and social functioning may lead to reduced physical activity levels, which ultimately may increase weight gain and continue worsening HRQOL. Therefore, clinicians should consider these findings when treating obese individuals and offer treatments to reduce weight and DOE as well as offer coping mechanisms that will aid this population to improve quality of life.

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