Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

BMJ Open Respir Res

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMJ Open Respiratory Research

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version


Start Page


Total Pages



INTRODUCTION: The obesity paradox in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), whereby patients with higher body mass index (BMI) fare better, is poorly understood. Higher BMIs are associated with lower lung volumes and greater lung elastic recoil, a key determinant of expiratory airflow. The forced expiratory flow (25-75) (FEF25-75)/forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio reflects effort-independent expiratory airflow in the context of lung volume and could be modulated by BMI.

METHODS: We analysed data from the COPDGene study, an observational study of 10 192 subjects, with at least a 10 pack-year smoking history. Data were limited to subjects with BMI 20-40 kg/m2 (n=9222). Subjects were stratified according to forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) (%predicted)-quintiles. In regression analyses and Cox proportional hazard models, we analysed the association between BMI, the FEF25-75/FVC ratio, the imaging phenotype, COPD exacerbations, hospitalisations and death.

RESULTS: There was no correlation between BMI and FEV1(%predicted). However, a higher BMI is correlated with a higher FEF25-75/FVC ratio. In CT scans, a higher BMI was associated with less emphysema and less air trapping. In risk-adjusted models, the quintile with the highest FEF25-75/FVC ratio was associated with a 46% lower risk of COPD exacerbations (OR 0.54, p

CONCLUSIONS: A higher BMI is associated with lower lung volumes and higher expiratory airflows when normalised for lung volume, as quantified by the FEF25-75/FVC ratio. A higher FEF25-75/FVC ratio is associated with a lower risk of COPD exacerbations and death and might quantify functional aspects of the paradoxical effect of higher BMIs on COPD.


OAfund, obesity, COPD

Granting or Sponsoring Agency

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Grant Number

R01HL089897 and R01HL089856

Journal Article Version

Version of Record

Published Article/Book Citation

BMJ Open Respiratory Research 2017;4:e000231.


Copyright © 2017 The Authors.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.