Childhood obesity increases the risk of asthma diagnosis, says a study led by researchers at Nemours Children's Health System. In…
Childhood obesity increases the risk of asthma diagnosis, says a study led by researchers at Nemours Children‘s Health System. In fact, at least 10 percent of all cases of asthma in the United States can be prevented if the children were not overweight, according to the authors.
“With these data, it is suggested that the reduction in obesity in childhood would significantly reduce the public health risk of asthma in children,” concluded researchers.
The study was published today in the journal Pediatrics.
By analyzing medical records for half a million children in the United States, researchers found that those who were obese were significantly more likely to have asthma than their normal important counterparts.
The information is helpful for counseling families, says Dr. Terri Finkel, Chief Scientist at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando. “If you lose any weight, it may potentially prevent the diagnosis.”
“If we can get through the children and get that message to them, we will have a much better chance not only to prevent asthma but also other chronic diseases,” she said.
A growing number of children in the United States are overweight. By 201
6, more than 18 percent of American children were overweight compared to 14 percent in 1999.
The exact mechanisms with which obesity increase the risk of asthma is not known. However, studies have shown that obese and obese children take more medicine, visit ER more often and are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic diseases like diabetes compared to their normal counterparts.
“It’s much easier for me to tell a child that he or she is overweight or fat but much harder to change his lifestyle. We must try,” said Finkel.
The link between asthma and obesity in children
A major European study published in September showed that asthma and wheezing in the East can contribute to increased risk of developing obesity in recent years.
Just this month, a study published in the Journal of Asthma documented a strong link between asthma symptoms and obesity and a sedentary lifestyle among children in Greece.
What makes Nemours lead research stand out is its size.
The study is among the first to use PEDSnet, a network of several specialties at eight American children’s hospitals, which crosses 22 states. The 5-year database is funded by the research institute Patient-Centered Outcomes, a state-owned nonprofit.  Res earchers reviewed the records for more than 500,000 children from 2-17 years who received medical care from six of the eight pediatric academic medical centers between 2009 and 2015.
Study studies indicate that nearly 8 million pediatric asthma cases reported in the United States, about 1 million is directly attributable to obesity and obesity. Overweight also appeared to be associated with asthma severity, found researchers.
The study also showed that it was African-American, male and younger than 5 years, among other risk factors for asthma diagnosis.
Meanwhile, obesity was just a modest risk factor for asthma, a finding that Finkel found surprisingly.
“It would be interesting to analyze data more to see if there is a breakpoint” or some Body Mass Index, where the relationship between asthma and obesity becomes significant, “says Finkel.
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