- Asthma during childhood may
increase the chances of obesity later in adolescence.
- Restricted physical activity in
children with asthma due to respiration difficulties may increase the
chances of obesity.
- Asthma inhalers may help prevent
obesity in children irrespective of physical activity.
Children with asthma may become obese later
in childhood or adolescence, according to new research published in the American
Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Earlier studies have found a link between
asthma and increased risk of developing obesity by following children over a
decade, the study stated. But it is not certain that all children who have
asthma are obese or will become obese.
‘Obesity may be more prevalent in children with asthma because respiratory problems may cause this population to play and exercise less and, another reason is that asthma medication causes weight gain.’
in early childhood increases the chances of obesity by 51%
compared to kids
who don't have asthma. The risk was observed for a span of 10 years, i.e, the
child may become obese in childhood or in adolescence.
Zhanghua Chen, lead author of the study and a
research associate of environmental health at the Keck School of Medicine said,
"Children who have asthma are often overweight or obese, but the
scientific literature has not been able to say asthma causes obesity."
"Our findings add to the literature that
early-life asthma history may lead to increased risk of childhood
The word 'asthma' is derived from a
Greek word meaning breathlessness or panting, both of which accurately describe
an attack of asthma.
is a condition that affects airways and the
small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. Childhood asthma is not a
different disease than asthma in adults but children find it difficult to
tackle the symptoms that interfere with their daily activities.
In children with asthma, airways are swollen
and inflamed. When these inflamed airways come into contact with an asthma
trigger, symptoms of asthma appear.
About the study
For the study, Dr. Chen and her colleagues
analyzed the records of 2,171 kindergarten kids and first graders who were not
obese at the time of enrollment in the Southern California Children's Health
At enrollment, 13.5% of the children had
asthma. The children were followed for a maximum of 10 years with an average of
6.9 years. Within that period, 15.8% of children developed obesity. Researchers
confirmed study results in a different group of children, recruited in the 4th
grade to participate in the CHS.
Details regarding health insurance,
ethnicity, family income, smoking exposure at home and physical activity were
collected to reduce bias.
The use of asthma medications during an
attack reduced the development of obesity though the confounding factors do not
explain the actual finding.
Vicious Cycle of Asthma & Obesity
"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
Zhanghua Chen, PhD, lead study author, Keck School of Medicine at the
University of Southern California.
Various studies have pointed out that childhood
causes asthma though the mechanism behind it remains unclear.
Studies conducted among adults suggest that obesity may lead
to reduced lung volumes and greater airway responsiveness, inducing asthma.
In children with asthma, obesity may be more
prevalent because respiratory problems may cause this population to play and
though the study accounted for physical activity. Another possibility is that,
a side effect of many asthma medications is weight gain.
Another interesting finding was that
children who used asthma inhalers when they had an attack were 43 percent less
likely to become obese.
Irrespective of the type of physical activity
the children were involved in, there was a correlation between the protective
effect of inhalers on obesity. Further study is required to confirm the
"Elevated asthma and obesity may contribute
to the development of other metabolic diseases, including prediabetes and Type
2 diabetes in later life," said, Frank Gilliland, senior author of the study and a professor
of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
"Early diagnosis and treatment of asthma
may help prevent the childhood obesity epidemic," said Gilliland.
The study had some limitations including,
data collected was self-reported and details on the dietary pattern of the
not taken into account.
- Children with asthma are more likely to become obese, USC study finds - (https://www.eurekalert.org/emb_releases/2017-01/uosc-cwa011717.php)
- Jason E. Lang, Obesity, Nutrition and Asthma in Children, Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology (2012), doi: 10.1089/ped.2011.0137.
- Frank D. Gilliland et al.,Obesity and the Risk of Newly Diagnosed Asthma in School-age Children, American Journal of Epidemiology (2003), https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwg175.