Obesity and Asthma Are Not a Great Mix

  • OK, so if you've been a long-term reader (I'm talking more than a year) of MyAsthmaCentral.com, you've probably seen a few shareposts from our various experts (including me) on the negative link between asthma and obesity. It's not a pleasant topic of discussion, but it is a necessary one -- especially considering that a new study found that obesity increased the risk of hospitalization for asthma by 5 times.


    Obesity is a national problem here in the U.S. According to the Weight Control Information Network (part of NIH), fully two-thirds of people in the U.S. are overweight, and almost one-third of us are considered obese. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and it's not a pretty -- or healthy -- sight.

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    Being overweight is defined as having excess body weight for your height, as measured against ranges of "normal." Obesity is having a high percentage of excess body fat. The U.S. percentages of overweight and obesity are rising steadily.


    Understanding the Health Risks

    The reasons why health care professionals like me are so concerned with these statistics is because being overweight and especially being obese can greatly increase your risk for the following diseases and conditions:

    Obesity can also contribute to these problems:

    • Pregnancy complications
    • Bladder problems such as stress incontinence
    • Menstrual problems
    • Excess body & facial hair
    • Depression
    • Risk of complications during surgery
    • Death

    And, as you've probably read here before, obesity can increase your risk for developing asthma AND make asthma symptoms worse.


    The News Gets Worse

    The new study done at Kaiser Permanente and published in the September issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that obesity increased the risk of hospitalization for asthma by 5 times. Those are pretty scary statistics, aren't they?


    The study looked at 1,113 people with persistent asthma in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, who were age 35 and older. Survey questions for the study looked at weight, height, smoking habits, other illnesses, treatment and participants' asthma-specific quality of life, asthma control and asthma-related hospitalizations. Other risk factors were ruled out.


    Findings were consistent with previous studies and presented some startling new facts:

    • Obese people with asthma had significantly worse asthma control, lower asthma-related quality of life, and 4.6 times higher risk for asthma-related hospitalizations than non-obese asthmatics.
    • Obese people with asthma were younger and less educated than non-obese people with asthma.
    • Obese people with asthma used more oral steroids.
    • Obese people with asthma had a higher incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disorder.

    What It Means

    The conclusion then, is that if you have asthma and are also obese, pay especially close attention to your degree of asthma control, because chances are, it will be harder to hang onto. And if you are merely overweight, then consider the increased risk of severe asthma attacks to be another good reason for getting your weight down into a healthy range.


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    When you maintain a healthy weight, your overall health status is going to be a lot better. You'll have more energy, sleep better, be able to be more active, and live longer. Oh, and you'll look better too, and isn't that a good thing? Losing weight, though, especially as you get older, is not always an easy task. So use the support you'll find here on the HealthCentral network to get and stay on track. Let's all work together to get healthier!


    See also:

    Asthma and Childhood Obesity: A Losing Combination


    How To Start Losing Weight

Published On: September 06, 2008