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Study Looks at Asthma, Obesity Link

Study Looks at Asthma, Obesity Link

October 29, 2001

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In the ongoing debate over the relationship between obesity and asthma, new study findings suggest that adolescents with asthma are no more likely to be obese than their non-asthmatic peers.

The study, which included primarily African-American adolescents, seems to counter previous studies that found a link between the two conditions.

Dr. Joel S. Brenner of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and colleagues compared 265 asthmatics between the ages of 12 and 21 years with 482 children and young adults the same age who did not have asthma.

The investigators found that 20% of those in the asthmatic group were obese, compared with 17% of those without asthma--essentially the same.

After taking into account a number of factors that can influence health and body weight, the researchers found that those who were obese were no more likely to be asthmatic compared with their slimmer peers. What's more, they found that asthmatics were no more likely to be overweight or obese compared with those without the respiratory condition.

About 21% of those with moderate to severe asthma were obese, compared with 19% of those with mild asthma and 17% of those without the condition, according to the report published in the Journal of Asthma.

"Further studies are needed to confirm these findings in a diverse adolescent population encompassing different socioeconomic backgrounds," Brenner and colleagues suggest. Some studies have found a link in children under 12 and in other ethnic groups, they note.

Over the past 20 years, childhood asthma and obesity have risen in tandem, but the nature of the relationship remains unclear.

SOURCE: Journal of Asthma 2001;38:509-515.

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