Chronic Bronchitis And Weight 

What is chronic bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis is inflammation (pain, swelling, and redness) of the bronchi (breathing tubes) that lasts 1 year or more and requires ongoing medical attention. Due to inflammation, bronchi produces mucus excessively and as a result, the ability to clean the bronchi is reduced.

What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a hacking cough, excretion of mucus, and shortness of breath.

Initially, the cough is dry, has clear mucus, and usually comes out in the morning. During remission, the patient does not complain. Exacerbations (worsening) of health conditions occur twice a year (early spring or late autumn).

In 20 – 30 years the disease can lead to complications, such as severe shortness of breath due to emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs) and respiratory failure.

Is maintaining a stable weight necessary for managing chronic bronchitis?

Excess of fat in the abdominal area can physically constrict and compress the lungs which would weaken the function of the lungs during an asthma attack.

Chronic inflammation associated with obesity may affect the likelihood or severity of asthma, as it is also often caused by inflammation.

Researchers at National Jewish Health (Colorado, USA), University of Western Australia (Australia), University of Auckland, Auckland (New Zealand), and Yonsei University Wonju College of Medicine (South Korea) reviewed the data collected from research projects that contained samples of lung tissue from people with a current diagnosis of asthma and people, who recently died from asthma and non-asthma related causes (Airway Tissue Biobank). Furthermore, research of comparative analysis of samples of asthmatics with a control group of tissues taken from people without asthma and those who died from other causes was carried out. A total number of 1,373 lung tissue samples taken from 52 people were examined under a microscope.

Scientists found fat cells in the lungs in all 3 groups, but in those who were overweight and obese, the number of fat cells in the lungs was higher than average. As body mass index (BMI) increased, so did the likelihood of lung fat cells increasing. An increase in BMI along with the accumulation of fat cells in the lungs was directly associated with the thickening and inflammation of the airways.

According to the team of authors of this research, the results not only contradict the theories mentioned above but also complement them and offer a new explanation.

“We found that excess fat cells accumulate in the surface of airways, where it locates and appears to increase inflammation in the lungs. We believe this condition is the cause of airways thickening and restricting the flow of air in and out of the lungs. This may at least partially explain the increase in asthma symptoms,” says one of the co-authors of the work, Professor of Physiology and Pulmonology Peter B. Noble.

Researchers at National Jewish Health (Colorado, USA), say the tissue that consists of fat cells is present on the surface of airways and is associated with BMI, leads to the thickening of the bronchi surface, and increases the number of inflammatory cells. Therefore, the accumulation of fat cells in bronchi tissue in overweight individuals may contribute to airway passage narrowing.

The scientists shared that they are currently conducting a study to research fat tissue in the lungs. In addition, further research will provide an opportunity to test whether losing weight can reduce the severity or risk of developing asthma. The team is working on the task of confirming the association of respiratory diseases and reversing this effect through weight loss therapy.

The President of the European Respiratory Society, Professor Thierry Troosters, in his interview, emphasized the importance of the results, as they transform the problem beyond the usual understanding.  The interview brief was that overweight patients need to breathe more and exercise to increase their respiratory load. The study reveals changes within the respiratory system associated with fat and its deposits, which could give a chance of preventing chronic bronchitis by losing excess weight and maintaining healthy body weight.

Chronic bronchitis can also lead to weight loss

According to research published in the Journal of Translational Internal Medicine, people with chronic bronchitis can notice unintentional weight loss, which is a sign of serious complications. The main cause of it is difficulty breathing, which leads to weight loss. People with chronic bronchitis complain of:

  • Loss of taste
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

All the above complaints lead to conditions when the body breaks down muscle's protein to utilize for energy since it isn't getting sufficient nutrients—breathing muscles becoming weaker. An individual will have more difficulty breathing. All these conditions are caused by insufficient nutrients in the body.

The American Lung Association states that people with chronic bronchitis are likely to have depression and anxiety. These conditions are also a cause of malnutrition. Any individual, who is experiencing mental well-being challenges may seek help from GPs and Mental Health professionals.


  1. Kim SH, Sutherland ER, Gelfand EW. Is there a link between obesity and asthma? Allergy Asthma Immunol Res [Internet]. 2014 May [cited 2022 Oct 21];6(3):189–95. Available from: 
  2. Copd and emotional health [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from: 
  3. National Jewish Health (Colorado, USA). Available from:

Mesme Bestwick

Master of Science - MS, Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene, University of Greenwich, England

I graduated from Azerbaijan Medical University in1996 and had clinical experience as ENT. I participated in WHO research projects and 10+ years in TB/HIV treatment in prisons. In 2011 I graduated from Greenwich University, MSc in Occupational Hygiene and worked as Health Manager in Aluminium Institute presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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