Why Children with Asthma are More Likely to Become Obese
Obesity has long been viewed as a risk factor for developing asthma. However, new evidence now suggests that the reverse may be true – that is, that asthma may be a risk factor for obesity. An international study has shown that toddlers who are diagnosed with asthma are more likely than those without asthma to become obese during childhood. The study involved 40 researchers and was led by scientists from the University of Southern California. The results were recently published in the European Respiratory Journal.
To investigate the potential for asthma to lead to obesity in children, the researchers studied 21,130 European children who were born between the years 1990 and 2008 in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. The results showed that the children who had been diagnosed with asthma between the ages of 3 and 4 were at a 66 percent higher risk for developing obesity than those who were not diagnosed with asthma. Children who had active asthma were almost twice as likely to develop obesity than those without active asthma.
The researchers speculate that there are a few different ways that asthma could contribute to obesity. For instance, those with asthma may be less likely to engage in physical activity. The corticosteroid medications that these children use to manage their asthma could also increase the risk for obesity.
Though this new research has not completely clarified the relationship between childhood asthma and obesity, any potential link is important because both diseases tend to lower quality of life for children. Understanding how asthma and obesity are linked may help in the development of interventions that can reduce the chances that children with one of these diseases develops the other.