It’s long been known that losing weight helps reduce snoring and sleep apnea. Now an MRI study from the University of Pennsylvania has found that the culprit is not neck or chin fat, but tongue fat. Yes, the problem is fat tongues.

“Most clinicians, and even experts in the sleep apnea world, have not typically focused on fat in the tongue for treating sleep apnea,” says coauthor Richard Schwab, co-medical director of Penn Sleep Center. “Now that we know tongue fat is a risk factor and that sleep apnea improves when tongue fat is reduced, we have established a unique therapeutic target that we’ve never had before.”
此次研究的合著者Richard Schwab是宾夕法尼亚大学睡眠中心联合医学主任,他说:“大部分临床医生,甚至还有睡眠呼吸暂停方面的专家,在治疗睡眠呼吸暂停时通常都没有关注舌脂。既然我们知道了舌脂是风险因素,而且减少舌脂会改善睡眠呼吸暂停,我们就已经确定了此前没有发现的独特的治疗靶点。”

He means tongue diets.

Schwab found a strong correlation between lowing tongue fat volume and lessening sleep apnea: “Future studies could be designed to explore whether certain low-fat diets are better than others in reducing tongue fat, and whether cold therapies, like those used to reduce stomach fat, might be applied to reducing tongue fat.” He is also looking into whether some snorers who are not obese might just have fat tongues.

Sleep apnea is a big deal: 22 million Americans stop and start breathing while sleeping, often causing high blood pressure, constant wake-ups, and the utter consternation of bedmates who, years later, still read studies about snoring prevention (no personal experience here whatsoever). The researchers note that snoring can occasionally also be caused by large tonsils or a recessed jaw. Or fat tongues.