How does obesity affect asthma? As the rates of obesity and asthma in the general population continue to climb, more and more research indicates a link between obesity and asthma.
Obesity and Incidence of Asthma
Scientists have suspected a link between obesity and an increased risk for asthma since the 1990s. Three separate studies indicated a link between weight gain and new onset of asthma in girls aged 13 to 17. In 2008, research by a graduate student at Kansas State University showed that increased childhood body fat and lower rates of childhood physical activity were linked with higher rates of childhood asthma. The study, which looked at 40 healthy children between the ages of 8 and 10, also showed that the higher the child’s body fat and the lower the child’s rate of physical activity, the more likely the child was to exhibit symptoms of asthma.
Obesity and Severity of Asthma
In addition to higher rates of asthma, obesity is also linked to more severe asthma. In a study conducted by researchers from Kaiser Permanente, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, obese patients were shown to be more than five times as likely to require hospitalization for asthma in the past year than non-obese asthma patients were. In the study, obese asthma participants also reported having less control over their condition and a lower quality of life due to their condition than non-obese participants did. Another study indicated that obese patients account for over 75 percent of all hospitalizations due to asthma, and that weight reduction in morbidly obese patients was linked to a reduction in asthma symptoms. A study conducted by the Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta that looked at the results of a survey of more than 3000 asthma patients showed that obese participants were 66 percent more likely to experience continuous symptoms of asthma, 36 percent more likely to miss work due to asthma, and 52 percent more likely to have asthma symptoms that could be classified as moderate or severe than normal-weight participants were.
The Relationship between Obesity and Asthma
Researchers are still trying to establish the cause of the relationship between obesity and asthma, but chronic inflammation seen even in obese patients who don’t have inflammatory triggers in their systems is suspect to be part of the cause.
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