Adults with obesity exhibit a restrictive pattern, whereas children with obesity exhibit an obstructive pattern. However, the transition process remains unclear. We performed a systematic search for studies reporting on body mass index and pulmonary function in children. The main outcomes were forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and their ratio (FEV1/FVC). We compared individuals with overweight or with obesity with individuals with normal weight. Random-effects models were used to calculate pooled estimates. A total of 17 studies were included. Individuals with obesity had a lower FEV1/FVC ratio (mean difference [MD] = −3.61%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −4.58%, −2.64%) and a higher percent-predicted FVC (MD = 3.33%; 95% CI = 0.79%, 5.88%) than those with normal weight. Obesity impaired pulmonary function in the obstructive pattern during childhood to young adulthood, and the maximum obstruction was observed at the age of 16 years in boys and 20 years in girls. The effects attenuated at approximately 30 years and then shifted to the restrictive pattern after 35 years of age in men and 40 years in women. The effects of obesity on pulmonary function change from the obstructive pattern in childhood to the restrictive pattern in adulthood.
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