With a prediction that 40% of people in the UK becoming obese by 2030, and the obvious cost it will then put on the national health service (NHS online) could hypoxia become an added stimulus to improve weight loss?

Anecdotal evidence and case studies of high altitude hiking have highlighted that insulin sensitivity is improved and a decrease in fat mass can occur (Chen et al 2010). However, there is a multitude of factors involved and as energy expenditure has not been reliably measured it is difficult to come to the conclusion that hypoxia is the main stimulus.

Wiesner et al (2009) has demonstrated in a randomized placebo controlled study that obese and overweight patients are able to exercise at a lower workload in a normobaric hypoxic chamber and still get similar gains in fitness, or even an improved decrease in fat mass compared to normoxia.

Read the Weisner article here

Tell us your thoughts on the following?

It may only be one paper but it is well controlled and adequately demonstrates the benefits of using of hypoxia for this demographic. Or do you think that there are other areas of weight loss that need to be addressed first?

Further points to consider:

1) In those that have very low tolerances to exercise (or even no tolerance), would passive exposure to hypoxia increase fitness levels at the start of a training program as indicated in patients with chronic heart failure? (Saeed et al 2012).

2) While they begin training the workload can remain relatively low <65% VO2max. Once a higher tolerance is achieved through hypoxic training, would an increase in intensity see even larger decreases in fat mass? References: www.nhs.uk/news/2011/08August/Pages/half-of-uk-predicted-to-be-obese-by-2030.aspx Chen et al. 'Effect of a prolonged altitude expedition on glucose tolerance and abdominal fatness.' Res Q Exerc Sport,81(4), 472-7. 2010. Saeed et al. 'Improved Exercise Performance and Skeletal Muscle Strength After Simulated Altitude Exposure: A Novel Approach for Patients With Chronic Heart Failure'. J Cardiac Failure. 2012. Weisner et al. 'Influences of normobaric hypoxia training on physical fitness and metabolic risk markers in overweight to obese subjects'. Obesity. 2009.