/publications/issue/2006/2006-04/2006-04-5394

Study Shows Depression, Asthma, Obesity Link

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Obesity later in life may be a factor for young adults with asthma?and childhood depression may influence the association, reported researchers in the International Journal of Obesity (February 21, 2006). Their study, which involved nearly 600 patients, indicated that those with asthma symptoms at the age of 20 were 3 times more likely to become obese by age 40, compared with nonasthmatics of the same age.

While the asthma?obesity link has been studied before, some researchers have argued that that this may not be a one-way relationship. The current study supports this theory by showing that "asthma also may precede obesity," noted researcher Gregor Hasler, MD. They found that a history of depression during childhood did explained a large portion of the asthma?obesity relationship.

The researchers were unable to determine why the 3 are linked. Dr. Hasler suggested that early depression is an indicator of a stressful family life. "Since psychological stress early in life is a risk factor for the development of both obesity and asthma," he said, "it may explain why asthma and obesity co-occur in an individual more frequently than expected by chance."