According to research led by Nemours Children’s Health System, 10% of paediatric asthma cases could be avoided if childhood obesity were eliminated.
Now published in the American Academy of Paediatrics, researchers analysed more than 500,000 children and is among the first to use the resources of PEDSnet, a multi-specialty network that conducts observational research and clinical trials across eight of the nation’s largest children’s health systems. The study essentially found that obesity increases the chances of paediatric asthma occurring.
The high risk of paediatric asthma
Terri Finkel, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, USA, explains: “Paediatric asthma is among the most prevalent childhood conditions and comes at a high cost to patients, families and the greater health system. There are few preventable risk factors to reduce the incidence of asthma, but our data show that reducing the onset of childhood obesity could significantly lower the public health burden of asthma.”
“Addressing childhood obesity should be a priority to help improve the quality of life of children and help reduce paediatric asthma.”
In their analysis, the researchers found that the incidence of an asthma diagnosis among children with obesity was remarkably higher than in children in a normal weight range and that 23% – 27% of new asthma cases in children with obesity are directly attributable to obesity.
Moreover, obesity among children with asthma appears to increase disease severity. Being overweight was seen as a modest risk factor for asthma, and the association was reduced when the most stringent definition of asthma was used.
The severity of the link between obesity and asthma
Roughly 6 to 8 million cases of paediatric asthma are reported in the United States alone, and the study’s data suggest that 1 million cases of asthma in children might be directly caused by those being overweight and suffering from obesity, and that at least 10% of all U.S. cases of paediatric asthma might be avoided in the absence of childhood overweight and obesity.
Additionally, although the study includes data from a large, geographically diverse population of children, rural children may be underrepresented in the results of this specific study.