Asthma Chest & Allergy Centre

A centre of excellence providing treatment of Asthma, Allergies and Chest Diseases since 1992

Asthma ands Obesity: What is the link?

Both asthma and obesity are diseases of westernization! Both are increasing at an epidemic proportion. Both are clearly related to the western life-style.

That much is clear. But could the two be causally related ? Which means, could obesity be (one of the) causes of asthma? Now, that is an interesting proposition!!

The asthma-obesity link has been observed for many decades. Doctors know that fat children and fat elderly women have a higher incidence of asthma. But it was always presumed that asthmatics tend to become fat because they are unable to exercise due to breathlessness caused by asthma. Also, since they remain indoors for longer, they are more exposed to house dust mites.

Data is now emerging that the link is more intimate as well as more complicated. Obesity is now being implicated as a cause of asthma. Exactly how that happens it not confirmed but it is thought that the general inflammatory chemicals of obesity, along with abnormality of insulin metabolism, somehow makes the air tubes more twitchy. Being overweight certainly makes breathing more difficult and laboured – and this is no rocket science!

Some confirmed facts:

•    Asthma in children is twice more likely to be found in obese children than in normal weight children.

•    Obese asthmatics are five times more likely to be hospitalized than normal weight asthmatics.

•    Obese asthmatics are harder to control than normal weight asthmatics.

•    Obese asthmatics have more confounding conditions like acid reflux and sleep apnea, which make their care more complicated.

•    Data also shows that weight reduction helps in the better control of asthma.

So the bottom line clearly is:

•    If you have asthma, it is prudent to keep your weight down.

•    If you have a family history of asthma, teach your children to eat healthy and keep their weight down, to reduce the chances of them developing asthma.