Children who underwent a tonsillectomy, a procedure that
removes the tonsils, to alleviate their symptoms of sleep apnea are more likely
to gain weight in comparison to children with sleep apnea who did not have the
In this study, the researchers examined 204 children between
the ages of five and nine who were advised to undergo surgery and another 192
children who took the watchful waiting approach.
The team of researchers followed the progress of the children
over the span of seven months
They found that children who had a removal of tonsils ended
up gaining more weight on average than children who did not get the procedure.
The overall weight gain difference was small and was not
noteworthy in children of normal weight.
In over weight children, however, the extra pounds added
their risk of becoming obese.
The researchers revealed that 52 percent of children who
were overweight before the surgery had become plump seven months after the
In the group of children who waited, only 21 percent of the
overweight children became obese within the same time span.
The researchers advised that children with sleep apnea
should ideally adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes nutrition and
However, researchers are still uncertain what caused the
weight gain in those who went through the surgery.
One theory is that those children could be burning fewer
calories because they no longer have difficulties breathing during sleep.
However, another school of thought on the subject is that more sleep decreases
hyperactivity during the daytime, which also decreases the number of calories
burned throughout the day.
"You can't just treat the sleep apnea. You have to have
nutrition and lifestyle counseling, too," said lead researcher Dr. Eliot
Katz, a respiratory disease specialist at Boston Children's Hospital.
"After surgery, parents are often very satisfied. Their
kids are sleeping better, and they may be better behaved and doing better in
school. But there's this insidious issue of weight gain." Dr. Eliot Katz
The study was published in the journal, Pediatrics