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How Can Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome Be Prevented?

You can prevent obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) by maintaining a healthy weight. However, not everyone who is obese develops OHS. Researchers don't fully know why only some people who are obese develop the condition.

Adopting healthy habits can help you maintain a healthy weight. Many lifestyle habits begin during childhood. So, it's important to make following a healthy lifestyle a family goal.

A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. It also includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods, such as lean meats, eggs, poultry without skin, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas.

A healthy diet is low in sodium (salt), added sugars, solid fats, and refined grains. Solid fats are saturated fat and trans fatty acids. Refined grains come from processing whole grains, which results in a loss of nutrients (such as dietary fiber). Examples of refined grains include white rice and white bread.

For more information about following a healthy diet, go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's "Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH" and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Web site. Both resources provide general information about healthy eating.

To adopt other healthy lifestyle habits, follow these tips:

  • Focus on portion size. Watch the portion sizes in fast food and other restaurants. The portions served often are enough for two or three people. Children's portion sizes should be smaller than those for adults. Cutting back on portion sizes will help you manage your calorie intake.
  • Be physically active. Make personal and family time as active as possible. Find activities that everyone will enjoy. For example, go for a brisk walk, bike or rollerblade, or train together for a walk or run.
  • Reduce screen time. Limit the use of TVs, computers, DVDs, and videogames; they cut back on the time for physical activity. Health experts recommend 2 hours or less a day of screen time that's not work- or homework-related.
  • Keep track of your weight and body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated from your height and weight. In adults, a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. You can use the NHLBI's online BMI calculator to figure out your BMI, or your doctor can help you.

For more information, go to the prevention section of the Health Topics Overweight and Obesity article.

Even if you have OHS, you might be able to prevent the condition from worsening. For example, avoid alcohol, sedatives, and narcotics. These substances can interfere with how well your body is able to maintain normal carbon dioxide and oxygen levels.

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Updated: January 27, 2012