Obesity epidemic may be fuelling the rise in childhood asthma


The researchers added that an estimated 23 percent to 27 percent of new asthma cases in children with obesity could be attributed to obesity, which would mean around ten percent of asthma case could be avoided in this age group, which is nearly 1 million children in the United States, if children maintained a healthy weight.

American scientists say that a tenth of asthma cases in childhood could be avoided if children stayed a healthy weight.

Obesity in children has been linked to increase in asthma. "This is another piece of evidence that keeping kids active and at a healthy weight is important".

Compared to kids at healthy weight, overweight children were 17 percent more likely to have an asthma diagnosis and obese youth were 26 percent more likely to have an asthma diagnosis, the study found. The researchers reviewed de-identified data of patients aged two to 17 without a history of asthma, receiving care from six paediatric academic medical centres between 2009 and 2015.

If no children were overweight or obese, 10 percent of asthma cases would be avoided, they estimated.

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"It appears becoming overweight or obese as a child significantly increases your risk of developing asthma, and it's a significant increase, directing attention again to the importance of preventing obesity at an early age". Researchers calculated the risk of asthma in children using several models and adjusted for factors such as sex, age, socioeconomic status, and allergies.

Scientists, from Duke University in the U.S., think being overweight alters development of lungs and airways and has a hormonal impact on the body, which increases inflammation.

Still, these findings and others, such as how asthma often improves with weight loss, suggests obesity plays a key role or is directly to blame, Lang said.

Even so, the results suggest that it may be possible to prevent the development of asthma by helping children maintain a healthy weight, said Dr. Deepa Rastogi, director of the Pediatric Asthma Center at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, New York.

"I think it's reasonable to be concerned that it's a causal relationship", said Dr Jason Lang, associate professor of paediatrics at Duke and the study's lead author.