Obesity a Likely Culprit in Childhood Asthma Cases

Experts say that maintaining a healthy weight can keep asthma attacks at bay.

While it comes as no surprise that childhood obesity is linked to health problems like an increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, researchers are now finding that asthma and excess weight may also go hand in hand. In a recent study spanning four years, 507,496 children — all of whom did not have asthma at first — were observed.

Researchers divided the children into three groups: overweight (85th to 94th percentile for weight), obese (95th percentile or higher), and normal weight (25th to 64th percentile.) They controlled for factors like age, race, health insurance, food allergies, and medications.

The study showed that overweight children were 17 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with asthma and were prescribed asthma medication. Those who were considered obese, had an even greater likelihood of asthma, landing at 30 percent. Researchers estimate that 23 to 27 percent of asthma cases in obese children can be linked to obesity. Among the children that participated in the experiment, 10 to 13 percent of their asthma cases were attributed to obesity.

“Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, the most common reason kids lose time in school, and the most common reason for hospitalization,” says Dr. Jason E. Lang, associate professor of pediatrics at Duke. In fact, the CDC reports that 3.4 percent of children with asthma are more likely to go to the emergency room and it is the "third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children younger than 15." Lang concludes, “It’s really important to keep kids at a healthy weight." Since there are limited options when it comes to asthma prevention, helping your child manage their weight is one easy way to actively improve their health.


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