Over the past 20 years, childhood asthma and obesity have risen in tandem, but the nature of the relationship remains unclear. Now, results of a study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York show that in US inner cities, obese children may have more trouble controlling their asthma compared with their thinner peers.
In a study of more than 1,300 asthmatics aged 4 to 9 living in eight inner-city areas, researchers found that obese children had more wheezing problems, were more likely to go the emergency room (ER) and more often needed drugs to control their asthma.
The investigators found that almost 20% of children in the study were obese and that these patients suffered more than two additional weeks of wheezing per year compared with non-obese children. In addition, the obese children visited an ER 8% more often and were 6% more likely to be prescribed oral steroids.
The authors also note that previous research suggests that increasing the body's lean tissue may improve lung function, while adding fat mass impairs it.
The question that remains is, which way does the connection go--from asthma to obesity, or from obesity to worse asthma? According to the study investigators, there's more evidence that obesity makes asthma worse than there is that asthma makes kids obese.
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