Children With Asthma Face Heightened Obesity Risk

APRIL 20, 2017
The results of a recent study indicate that children with asthma may be more likely to develop obesity than those without the respiratory condition. The study, published in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, analyzed data on 2171 kindergarteners and first graders, about 13.5% of whom had asthma.

Although none of the participants were obese at the start of the study, 15.8% had become obese after an average follow-up period of 6.9 years.

Accounting for factors such as ethnicity, family income, smoking exposure at home, physical activity levels, and enrollment weight, the researchers determined that the children with asthma were 51% more likely to develop obesity in late childhood or adolescence than kids who did not have asthma.

“Asthma and obesity often occur together in children, but it is unclear whether children with asthma are at higher risk for onset of obesity or whether obese children develop asthma, or both,” said lead author Zhanghua Chen, PhD, in a press release. “Our findings add to the literature that early-life asthma history may lead to increased risk of childhood obesity.”

It was also discovered that the use of asthma rescue medications reduced the obesity risk by 43%. While the study authors said that this finding warranted further study, they also emphasized that the overall study findings reinforced the importance of the early diagnosis and treatment of asthma in children.