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The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in the Management of Obesity

Currently, obesity remains one of the biggest global health challenges. In most cases, it does not occur in isolation. It happens alongside other health conditions, which include diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Cardiovascular complications include heart attacks and hypertension. Obesity is highest in more developed countries, where most individuals adopt sedentary lifestyles. Obesity is also linked to various psychological disorders, including depression, stress, and anxiety. In extreme cases, specific individuals experience suicidal and non-suicidal acts of self-harm. Some of the commonly explored forms of treatment for obesity include bariatric surgery, the use of weight loss medication, behavioral therapy, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The latter is preferred by many since it is non-invasive, has minimal side effects, and is cost-effective in the long run.

How HBOT Works

HBOT increases the delivery of oxygen to all body tissues, including adipose (fat) tissues, which also results in increased metabolism. With increased metabolism, a caloric deficit is maintained since all the surplus calories are used up. In the long run, this leads to weight loss. HBOT addressed the persistent low-grade inflammation associated with obesity; this especially applies to the adipose tissue. Increased inflammation leads to insulin resistance, which affects numerous body processes that depend on insulin. The latter is the reason why one becomes susceptible to such conditions as diabetes mellitus. Other metabolic mishaps result from the scenario as well. The increased tissue oxygenation reduces the proportions of pro-inflammatory cytokines while also boosting the secretion of beneficial anti-inflammatory factors. Addressing inflammation also improves insulin sensitivity and associated metabolism. This way, it becomes easier for obese individuals to lose weight. Boosting insulin sensitivity also aids in balancing blood sugar levels. Whenever there is an imbalance of the latter, there is bound to be increased reserves of fat that deposit along different parts of the body.

HBOT also improves the state of gut microbiota. Whenever there is an issue with the latter, there is minimal absorption of nutrients. The stomach has minimal beneficial bacteria, which results in metabolic mishaps. HBOT has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, which result in obesity in individuals of certain body types. For those who eat a lot once they are stressed, HBOT sessions address the situation of reducing the cravings and other unhealthy habits that lead to stress eating. HBOT also leads to stability in hormonal secretion and functioning. This includes balancing the neurotransmitter levels, which leads to a relaxed state of body and mind.


Gonzalez‑ramirez, J., Ramírez‑Nava, J., Gonzalez‑lopez, S., Sommer, B., Solís‑Chagoyán, H., Montaño, L., Romero‑Martínez, B., & Flores‑soto, E. (2021). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in overweight and obese patients with COVID‑19. World Academy of Sciences Journal, 3(6), 161–167.   

Heilbronn, L., Wilkinson, D., Nolting, M., Mahadi, M., & Chapman, I. (2013). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases insulin sensitivity in overweight men with and without type 2 diabetes. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 7(2), 42–51.  




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