FAA recently announced a new policy that requires obese pilots (both commercial & private) to undergo sleep apnea screenings before receiving their medical certificate. Excess weight can increase the risk of some sleep disorders. If the pilot has a body mass index of 40 or greater they will be evaluated by a board certified sleep specialist for sleep apnea. Soon this policy will also extend to air traffic controller with a high BMI.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and more frequently found in overweight individuals. Sleep apnea causes chronic fatigue; it can also contribute to cognitive impairment, cardiac problems, personality disturbances and high blood pressure.
CNN reported that the FAA identified up to 125,000 commercial and private pilots that could be affected by the new policy. There are about 600,000 active pilots in the US, including students. FAA wants to push the importance of well rested pilots to guarantee the safety of all passengers.