Most parents know that America is struggling with obesity, but do we know what it can do to our children’s health? To some degree we have realized that child health in itself is a struggle, every little cut and cough reflects their health, but how often do we pay attention to their weight? According to a study from the American Journal of Epidemiology, children who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop asthma compared to normal weight children. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there are currently 7.1 million children in the U.S. suffering from asthma.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition which causes difficulty breathing. Usually it is a result from an allergic reaction or forms of hypersensitivity during certain activities. Inflammation of air passages results in temporary narrowing in the passages that carry oxygen to the lungs. As a result, coughing wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness occur.
Researchers from Kaiser Permanente in California examined health records of more than 623,000 children between the age of 6 and 19. Over the course of a year the results showed that overweight children were 1.16 to 1.37 times more likely to develop asthma, as opposed to kids who were of normal weight. The risk grows as their body mass index (measure of body fat that reflects height and weight) increases.
The study also determined that obese children are likely to experience more frequent and severe encounters with asthma, which requires asthma treatment. Kids with excessive weight were required to visit their doctor and use inhalers more often to restore regular breathing cycles.
The correlation of weight and asthma stems from the effects of inflammation. Inflammation caused by body fat adds extra pressure on the child’s chest, forcing their lungs to work harder to gather oxygen. The overweight kids saw greater severity of asthma symptoms compared to normal weight children. For example, struggling to breathe revealed more difficult experiences that are a result of added weight.
Asthma is known as the most common childhood illness in America, affecting one out of 10 children. The connection between asthma and obesity was more prominent among moderate obese and extremely obese girls between 6 and 10 years old. Their range of risk was between 1.36 and 1.56 times higher than normal weight girls of the same age.
There have not been many large scale studies of childhood obesity and asthma in the U.S. but this small study shows that there is a connection between obesity and asthma in children.
Asthma symptoms vary in children, their weight is now starting to become an issue since children are much larger than they used to be. Parents and families can start monitoring their children who are overweight much closely for signs of asthma development. Regular doctor visits are the best effort to avoid asthma development and engaging with asthma treatment early on before any existing conditions become worse.
We encourage you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla to determine the severity of asthma your child is exposed to and provide an asthma treatment strategy to maintain proper breathing and healthy growing airways.