Fat children are at greater risk of asthma than children of normal weight, finds a study published in Thorax.
The researchers investigated a representative sample of almost 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 11 in Scotland and England, and also included more than 5000 children from 20 English inner city areas. The data were collected in 1993 and 1994.
Seventeen out of every 100 children had asthma, but reported asthma attacks were lower among inner city children, while wheezing was twice as common. Asthma and wheezing were significantly associated with weight, with the heaviest children the most likely to have these symptoms. The link was also stronger in girls than in boys, but less so for children living in inner city areas.
Asthma seems to be a risk factor for obesity, say the authors, who add that similar associations have been found in adults; studies in the USA have also shown that asthma precedes obesity. But there is no obvious explanation for why fat girls should be more prone to asthma than fat boys, say the authors. The hormone leptin, levels of which are higher in girls, and which is produced by fat tissue in the body, may be part of the answer, they say.
Contact: Dr. Jose Figueroa-Muñoz, Department of Public Health Sciences, King's College, London. Tel: 0207 848 6630; fax: 0207 848 6605/20 Email: email@example.com
[Association between obesity and asthma in 4-11 year old children in the UK] Thorax, 2001;56:133-7
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