More pounds equals worse asthma?

May 22, 2007

A new study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference finds that obese people are significantly more likely to have persistent or severe persistent asthma than their thinner counterparts.

The study presented on May 23 looked at 3,059 adults with asthma, who were divided into three groups: non-overweight, overweight and obese, based on their body mass index (BMI). Compared with non-overweight asthma patients, obese patients (BMI=30) were more likely to report having continuous symptoms, have more ER visits, miss more days of work, use more rescue inhaler medications and use inhaled steroids to control asthma.

Obese patients were 66% more likely to report having asthma symptoms all of the time, were 47% less likely to be in asthma remission, and 52% more likely to have severe persistent asthma than non-overweight people with asthma. Obese asthmatics were also 36% more likely to miss more than two days of work per year due to asthma than non-overweight asthma patients.

"There have been a number of studies on obesity and asthma prevalence, but until now there has been little data on obesity and asthma severity," says lead researcher Brian Taylor, M.D., of Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta.

The studies that have been done have been small, but this study took data from the National Asthma Survey, which includes 5,741 asthmatics, Dr. Taylor notes. "We had enough data to adjust for other factors, such as gender, race, income and employment status, and ensure that these factors were not playing a role in the results. Even after taking these variables into account, the association between obesity and asthma severity still held."

Dr. Taylor notes that this study, like many previous studies, shows the link between asthma and obesity is more prominent in women. "A big part of that is simply that 70% of the study subjects were women," he says. "We did find a statistically significant association between obesity and asthma severity in men, too."

While it's not known for sure how asthma and obesity are linked, Dr. Taylor notes that one potential mechanism seems to be an association between the hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells and plays a role in body weight regulation, and inflammation of airways seen in asthma. Obesity also may impact the lungs in other ways to increase the risk of asthma.

A recent review of studies, which was published in the ATS's own American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, suggested that asthma incidence could be reduced by interventions targeting overweight and obesity. Led by Dr. Fernando Holguin, Dr. Taylor and colleagues are now studying whether patients who undergo bariatic, or weight-loss, surgery experience an improvement in airway function compared with obese patients who don't have the surgery.

Source: American Thoracic Society

Explore further: From beef tongue to beef on weck, menus tell culinary story

Related Stories

What makes a child feel unsafe in their neighbourhood?

Mar 31, 2015

Differences in the way children and adults perceive the world extend to their sense of safety in their social and physical environments and this in turn can impact their health, say researchers at the University ...

ResearchKit: 5 things to know about Apple's medical apps

Mar 11, 2015

Amid all the talk of Apple Watch, a new MacBook laptop and a partnership with HBO, a set of Apple tools aimed at promoting medical research didn't get much attention. The tools, called ResearchKit, promise ...

Which comes first: Exercise-induced asthma or obesity?

Dec 22, 2010

Obese people are more likely to report exercise as a trigger for asthma. Of 673 people evaluated in a new study whose results are published in the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine, 71 percent of participants report ...

Coming up for air

Oct 29, 2014

Sometimes you've got to hit bottom to battle your way back up. In 1992, the United Nations cited Mexico City as having the worst air quality in the world, with so much pollution that birds sometimes dropped ...

Kids' health suffers when parents go to jail

Sep 03, 2014

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2 million people currently behind bars. How this affects their families is the subject of a new UC Irvine study, which found significant health and ...

Recommended for you

India's bidi workers suffer for 1,000-a-day habit

3 hours ago

Zainab Begum Alvi and her band of young helpers hunch over baskets filled with tobacco flakes and dried leaves, trying to roll a thousand dirt-cheap cigarettes a day at the behest of India's powerful bidi barons.

Key to better sex ed: Focus on gender & power

Apr 17, 2015

A new analysis by Population Council researcher Nicole Haberland provides powerful evidence that sexuality and HIV education programs addressing gender and power in intimate relationships are far more likely ...

Journal tackles aging policy issues raised by White House

Apr 17, 2015

In anticipation of the forthcoming 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has produced a special issue of The Gerontologist that outlines a vision for older adults' econom ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.