Race and Obesity Linked to Increased Asthma

Body mass index was linked to increased asthma risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Obesity is a risk factor for several diseases, including asthma. In a new study, obesity increased the risk of asthma in children but the risk varied between ethnic and racial groups.

Obese children had a higher risk of developing asthma than children who were considered at a healthy weight. Among racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic children, with a high Body Mass Index (BMI), had the highest risk of developing asthma.

This study could help develop public health policies and create more awareness among families and their doctors.

"Talk to your child's doctor about risk factors for asthma."

The study was led by Mary Helen Black, Ph.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation and involved 681,000 children. The studied examined health records of children from Southern California between 2007 and 2009. High BMI not only increased the risk of asthma but also affected asthma treatment,

Kaiser Permanente is a health care provider and features non-profit health plans in Southern California. The health records were obtained from Kaiser Permanente health plan members. The records included height and weight data, diagnosis of asthma and prescribed asthma medication.

From the health records of the 681,000 children, aged between six and 19, 18 percent had asthma. BMI was compared to asthma occurrence in five different racial and ethnic groups. African-Americans had the weakest connection between high BMI and asthma while Hispanic children with high BMI were at a greater risk for developing asthma.

A high BMI also affected asthma treatment. Children with high BMI had more doctor and emergency room visits than children with a healthy BMI. Higher inhaled and oral corticosteroid use was also associated with a higher BMI.

The increased use of inhaled and oral corticosteroids in children with a higher BMI may be especially problematic, notes researchers. According to researchers, citing previous studies, there is a possible link between high usage of inhaled or oral corticosteroids and Type 2 diabetes.  

Future studies can help develop public health policies targeting those most at risk of developing asthma. Doctors can also be more aware of asthma risk factors, leading to better awareness of how to treat asthma.

No funding information was provided. No author conflicts were reported.

This study was published in the March edition of Obesity.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 29, 2012
Last Updated:
February 29, 2012