Childhood obesity is at an all-time high in the United States. With an increase in unhealthy foods, more time spent in front of screens, and only 43% of six to 11-year olds getting the recommended 60 minutes of exercise each day, there is what some may call an obesity epidemic among U.S. children. And now a new study found that asthma could actually be contributing to this epidemic.
The new study was conducted at the University of Southern California and found that asthma can cause children to be more susceptible to health problems when they’re older.
According to senior author Lida CHatzi, “Asthma is a chronic childhood disorder and if it increases the risk of obesity, we can advise parents and physicians on how to treat it and intervene to help young children grow up to enjoy healthy, adult lives.”
Already, there has been a lot of research on the connection between asthma and obesity in adults, showing that obesity is a risk factor for new asthma. But in children, the relationship between asthma and obesity seem to be different.
The new research has found that compared to those without an asthma diagnosis, children diagnosed with asthma had a 66% higher risk of becoming obese. Those with persistent wheezing symptoms had a 50% higher risk of becoming obese. And compared to children without asthma and wheezing, children with active asthma were almost twice as likely to become obese.
Asthma affects about 6.5 million children in the U.S. and yet little research has been done on how asthma may lead to obesity. There’s a proven connection of obesity leading to asthma but the study authors wanted to express the importance of understanding how asthma could affect children later on in life. With 46.5 million surgical procedures being performed every year, it’s crucial that physicians and parents know how to ensure their children are living as healthy as possible when they’re young to avoid health complications later on in life.
This study is the largest one yet on the relationship between asthma and obesity. The researchers looked at more than 21,000 participants from a variety of countries, including Spain, Greece, the UK, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and more. All participants were diagnosed with asthma before they were four years old and they were studied until they were eight years old.
While it was clear that children with asthma had a higher risk of being obese, the researchers found that the children who took asthma medication were at the highest risk of developing obesity. This is believed to be due to the side effects of corticosteroids used in treating asthma.
Already, the CDC shows that about one-third of American families have difficulties paying medical bills. If asthma leads to further health complications, parents may be looking at hefty medical expenses and additional treatments for their children. So understanding how asthma may lead to other health concerns is crucial.
The cause of the relationship between asthma and obesity is still not fully understood. But the researchers behind this study hope that more research will be done to understand this connection so children with asthma can be treated appropriately to minimize the risk of obesity.