According to a study conducted in the United States, suggests that overweight and obese children and adolescents may develop asthma.
While obesity has long been linked to asthma in adults, studies to date have offered conflicting evidence as to whether this is true for young people, pediatricians say.
The current study reached more than 500,000 children, aged 2 to 17, on average for four years. Overall, approximately 8% were diagnosed with asthma.
Compared to children with healthy weight, overweight children were 17% more likely to have asthma and obese youngsters were 26% more likely to have asthma. It was based on diagnosis or prescription asthma drugs but not on breathing test results.
When researchers examined the association between asthma and obesity based on so-called spirometry tests showing how much people could breathe air from their lungs, the connection was stronger. Obesity was associated with a 29% higher risk of asthma based on these more stringent diagnostic criteria.
The study was not a controlled trial designed to prove whether or excess weight or obesity could directly cause asthma, but the results offer some of the most convincing evidence to date, indicating that there is indeed a relationship, Lang Duke University Medical School in Durham, North Carolina .
"Experts have speculated that abnormal lung growth associated with obesity is blocking air flow," Lang said in an e-mail.
Obesity can also trigger the development of cardiological risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and inability to use hormone insulin to contribute blood sugar to energy that could lead to a drop in the airways, Lang added.
"Several studies have shown that asthma symptoms improve with weight loss, but the exact mechanism is not known," Lang said.
About 23% -27% of new asthma cases among obese children can be attributed directly to obesity.
If children were not overweight or obese, 10% of asthma cases would be avoided, they estimated.
One limitation of the study is that the researchers relied on medical records kept by doctors, and documentation of asthma or a diagnosis of spirometry was made at the discretion of doctors.
It is also not possible to determine whether asthma can lead to obesity or whether obesity can lead to asthma.
However, the results show that asthma can be prevented by helping children maintain a healthy weight, said Dr. Deepa Rastogi, director of the Children's Asthma Center at Montefiore Children's Hospital, Bronx, New York.
Even with asthma, children can exercise them to help them achieve and maintain a healthy weight, Rastogi said by email.
"Children with asthma can be as active as they want to be – we had Olympic level athletes with asthma," said Rastogui, who wrote an editorial with the study.
"There is no activity that children with asthma should avoid," Rastoggi added. "They should be aware of their symptoms, and if they associate a particular activity with asthma, they should take their asthma medication called albuterol 20 to 30 minutes before they participate in this activity."
Source: bit.ly/2TLbCYJ Children, online November 26, 2018.