© Nagy Bagoly Ilona / Thought
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. People affected respond to certain triggers, such as allergens, infections or chemical stimuli, with acute spasm and constriction of the bronchi. Resistance to breathing can endanger life. But how does the suffering happen? Researchers now know that, in addition to genetic predisposition, environmental factors play a role – for example, gas emissions in the car, but also antenatal influences and child's diet.
30% higher risk
Another potential factor of influence has now been discovered by Jason Lang of Duke University in Durham and colleagues: body weight. For their study, researchers analyzed data from 507,496 children aged between two and 17 years. Young patients together had over 19 million visits to the doctor during 2009-2015 – the results of these appointments were entered into a database for research purposes.
The assessment showed that children with weight problems suffered more often than asthma than children with healthy body weight. Thus, obese subjects had about 30% higher risk of illness. In overweight children who are not yet obese, the risk compared to normal weight was at least 17% higher. This relationship has persisted even after the team has calculated other relevant factors such as age, gender or allergies.
Many cases can be prevented?
According to the researchers, it could mean that obesity plays an essential role in the development of asthma. It is true that, according to them, there could be ten percent of all avoidable asthma in the US – which accounts for one million people affected. "We can not do anything against a variety of causes, such as genetic predisposition," says Lang. "Obesity and overweight are risk factors that can be avoided, which further demonstrates the importance of an active lifestyle and healthy weight in children."
As the authors of the study emphasize, their study is not a controlled clinical trial. If there is, in fact, a causal relationship between obesity and asthma and what mechanisms are harmful to the excess kilograms of lung health, it is still to be seen in further studies. "But I think it would be appropriate to suspect a causal link here," says Lang. (Pediatrics, 2018)