Are Obese Children At Risk?
Asthma, the leading cause of chronic illness and school absenteeism in children, has now been linked to obesity. Department of Pediatrics researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo studied 171 urban children ages 4 to 16, the majority of whom were Hispanic. Some 31 percent of asthmatic children were very obese compared with 12 percent of nonasthmatic children.1 Even when they were not very obese, asthmatic children in general had more body fat than nonasthmatics. (Very obese is at or greater than the 95th percentile of the body-mass index.)
Although asthma may reduce a child's exercise capacity, exercise avoidance couldn't explain the higher incidence of obesity in the asthmatic children, especially since many of the children effectively controlled their asthma. It is more likely that the overall dietary habits and chronic inactivity that cause obesity also increase the risk for asthma. Researchers theorize obesity itself may, in fact, increase the airway reactivity.
1. Gennuso J, et al. The relationship between asthma and obesity in urban minority children and adolescents. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 1998;152:1197-1200.