Weight loss is frequently observed after acute exposure to high altitude. However, the magnitude and rate of weight loss during acute exposure to high altitude has not been clarified in a controlled prospective study. The present study was performed to evaluate weight loss at high altitude. A group of 120 male subjects [aged (32±6) years] who worked on the construction of the Golmud-Lhasa Railway at Kunlun Mountain (altitude of 4 678 m) served as volunteer subjects for this study. Eighty-five workers normally resided at sea level (sea level group) and 35 normally resided at an altitude of 2 200 m (moderate altitude group). Body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference were measured in all subjects after a 7-day stay at Golmud (altitude of 2 800 m, baseline measurements). Measurements were repeated after 33-day working on Kunlun Mountain. In order to examine the daily rate of weight loss at high altitude, body weight was measured in 20 subjects from the sea level group (sea level subset group) each morning before breakfast for 33 d at Kunlun Mountain. According to guidelines established by the Lake Louise acute mountain sickness (AMS) consensus report, each subject completed an AMS self-report questionnaire two days after arriving at Kunlun Mountain. After 33-day stay at an altitude of 4 678 m, the average weight loss for the sea level group was 10.4% (range 6.5% to 29%), while the average for the moderate altitude group was 2.2% (-2% to 9.1%). The degree of weight loss (Δ weight loss) after a 33-day stay at an altitude of 4 678 m was significantly correlated with baseline body weight in the sea level group (r=0.677, P<0.01), while the correlation was absent in the moderate altitude group (r=0.296, P>0.05). In the sea level subset group, a significant weight loss was observed within 20 d, but the weight remained stable thereafter. AMS-score at high altitude was significantly higher in the sea level group (4.69±2.48) than that in the moderate altitude group (2.97±1.38), and was significantly correlated with baseline body weight. These results indicate that (1) the person with higher body weight during stay at high altitude loses more weight, and this is more pronounced in sea level natives when compared with that in moderate altitude natives; (2) heavier individuals are more likely to develop AMS than leaner individuals during exposure to high-altitude hypoxia.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Sheng li xue bao : [Acta physiologica Sinica]|
|State||Published - Dec 25 2010|
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