Obesity and asthma are linked: study

NEW YORK Mon May 31, 2010 9:20pm EDT

A competitor prepares to go in front of judges at a casting call for the second season of the reality television programme ''Dance Your Ass Off'', during which overweight or obese contestants hope to lose weight by dancing, in New York December 18, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

A competitor prepares to go in front of judges at a casting call for the second season of the reality television programme ''Dance Your Ass Off'', during which overweight or obese contestants hope to lose weight by dancing, in New York December 18, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study confirms a link between obesity and asthma.

A number of studies have shown an association between obesity and asthma, both of which have become much more common over the past three decades, Dr. Jun Ma of the Palo Alto Medical Research Institute in California note in the medical journal Allergy.

Ma and her team looked at about 4,500 men and women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2005-2006. About a third were overweight, and another third were obese.

Forty-one percent had some type of allergy, while 8 percent had asthma. The researchers wanted to tease out those rates because allergy and asthma are related in some people.

Twelve percent of the obese individuals had asthma, compared to six percent of the normal-weight study participants. And the likelihood of asthma rose as the body mass index -- BMI, a relation of weight and height used to gauge obesity -- increased and waist circumferences expanded.

The risk of asthma was more than tripled for the most obese individuals compared to normal weight people.

But the reason why the two might be related is still not clear. Some researchers have suggested the system-wide, low-grade inflammation that occurs with obesity may be a factor, while others have argued that resistance to the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin -- which rises with excess weight -- is the reason for the link. That resistance often foretells the onset of diabetes.

Thirty-seven percent were either diabetic or had insulin resistance. The study did not find any evidence, however, that insulin resistance was responsible for the relationship, and allergy was not related to either weight or insulin resistance.

The findings don't rule out the possibility that insulin may be a link between obesity and asthma, Ma told Reuters Health by e-mail. There are a host of other potential reasons for the association, which seems complex, she added.

SOURCE: here Allergy, published online May 7, 2010.

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Comments (4)
amscholer wrote:
There are a couple possibilities not mentioned in either the article or the source. 1) Asthma is treated with cortisone-based medication and often prednisone for exacerbations, medications which are known to cause weight gain in the majority of the population. 2) A lack of energy due to poor oxygen supply (from inadequate asthma control) will cause most folks to eat more and/or exercise less…causing, again, weight gain.

Jun 01, 2010 11:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ladyjade01 wrote:
I agree with the above poster. Obesity may be the result of asthma, not the other way around. It seems like the medical world is trying to blame everything on obesity, when obesity may be the result of other problems.

Jun 01, 2010 1:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Aarky wrote:
Why is it that doctors are re-discovering information that was widely known 50 years ago. My aunt was morbidly obese and had asthma. One old dentist advised my brother that tooth decay could cause heart problems. Hopefully the good doctors won’t inform us that tires are round and cats make mewing sounds. People may laugh at them.

Jun 01, 2010 2:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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