A POSSIBLE association between obesity and asthma has been found according to the results of a new study; more specifically in early-life asthma which may influence the development of childhood obesity. Approximately 17% of children in the USA are obese and currently, around 10% are affected by asthma. With asthma and childhood obesity regularly occurring together, this study was designed to investigate the impact of asthma and asthma medication on childhood obesity.
In this study, the medical records of 2,171 non-obese children aged between 5 and 8 years old were studied; the cohort was enrolled in the Southern California Children’s Health Study (CHS) and were followed-up for 10 years. Additionally, a replication analysis was carried out on an independent cohort of 2,684 CHS children, tracked from an average age of 9.7–17.8 years.
Over the course of this longitudinal study, a variety of data were collected and measured. Height and weight was recorded annually, and asthma was assessed based on diagnosis from a physician, subsequent to reports by the children or their parents. Furthermore, to control for other factors, the parents completed questionnaires on smoking exposure, sociodemographic factors, history of respiratory illness, and physical activity patterns. Finally, Cox regression was used to evaluate the links between asthma and the incidence of obesity throughout the follow-up period.
It was discerned that, compared with non-obese, asthma-free children, non-obese children with asthma were 51% more likely to become obese during the follow-up period. After adjusting for sociodemographic group and other variables, these results remained consistent. Further investigation found that the use of medications, such as an asthma inhaler, significantly lowered the risk of obesity. While the results were found to be independent of physical activity, the researchers noted that some of the limitations of the study included the lack of information on diet or patterns of physical activity and that the information was self-reported.