Researchers studying a link betweenasthma and obesity have found that childhooddepression may be an importantpiece of the puzzle. A recent issue of theInternational Journal of Obesity featured astudy of 600 men and women with asthma.It was found that those who had asthmasymptoms at age 20 were more than3 times as likely to be obese by age 40 aspeople who did not have asthma symptoms.A common thread in many of thesecases appeared to be childhood or adolescentdepression, which may contributeto subsequent excessive weight gain.Previous studies differed over whichappeared first—asthma or obesity. It ispossible that asthma medications maycause their users to put on weight, or thatan inability to exercise may be thecause—although the study participants'activity levels did not reflect this inability.Gregor Hasler, MD, of the UniversityHospital Zurich in Switzerland, speculatedthat the link between early depressionand a subsequent asthma-obesity combinationmay be that the early depressionsignals a stressful family life, and psychologicalstress is a risk factor for both asthmaand obesity. He said that all 3 disordersare marked by widespread inflammationin the body, and perhaps genes that regulatethis inflammation also may contributeto depression, asthma, and obesity.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.