A sleep disorder that can leave people gasping for breath at night could be linked to the amount of fat on their tongues, a study suggests.
When sleep apnoea patients lost weight, it was the reduction in tongue fat that lay behind the resulting improvements, researchers said.
Larger and fattier tongues are more common among obese patients.
But the Pennsylvania team said other people with fatty tongues may also be at risk of the sleep disorder.
The researchers now plan to work out which low-fat diets are particularly good at slimming down the tongue.
“You talk, eat and breathe with your tongue – so why is fat deposited there?” said study author Dr Richard Schwab, of Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia.
“It’s not clear why – it could be genetic