Scientists warn that obese people are more at risk of serious lung disease. They found that low physical activity levels and excessive fat on the waist are related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) progression.

COPD is among the top common types of lung disease. It has two forms which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Both conditions may result to difficulty in breathing.

Researchers from the United States and Germany studied the relationship of hip and waist circumference, levels of physical activity and body mass index (BMI) to new COPD cases in America. The team checked the data of 113,279 people from 50 years old to 70 years old who did not have cancer, COPD or heart disease at the start of the study in 1995. After 10 years, the researchers followed up of the subjects and found that 3,648 people developed COPD. They also found that those with large waist circumference of 118 cm or above in men and 110 cm or above in women were 72 percent more at risk of COPD.

"Overweight as measured by BMI emerged as a significant predictor of increased risk of COPD only among those with a large waist circumference," study author Dr. Gundala Behrens from Regensburg University of Germany said. There is a stronger relation between COPD and abdominal fat than COPD and overall body fat. Behrens also said that a strong COPD predictor in both smokers and in those who never smoked is a large waist.

The study showed that those with a large waist circumference who were active physically five times per week reduce their COPD risk by 29 percent. Exercise reduces oxidative stress and inflammation while enhancing a person's ability to heal. Researchers also noted that underweight people were 56 percent more at risk of COPD. It could be due to reduced muscle mass and malnutrition. They concluded that healthy weight and being well-nourished are key to prevent COPD.

Smoking, toxic particles and pollution may cause COPD because of an impaired ability to heal lung injury and chronic inflammation. Increased fat deposits in both the abdomen and other parts of the body increase systemic and local inflammation that may stimulate COPD-related lung processes.

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