Obesity increases risk of childhood asthma by 29%, say researchers

A retrospective cohort study involving more than 500,000 children found that obesity increases asthma risk by up to 29%.

Obese child with bronchodilator mask

Obesity is a major preventable cause of childhood asthma, conclude the authors of a study published in Paediatrics (online, 30 November 2018)[1]

The research used data from 507,496 children aged 2–17 years without asthma at baseline, who were followed-up for an average of 4 years. Asthma incidence was determined by at least two healthcare visits with a recorded asthma diagnosis and at least one inhaler prescription.

Those classified as overweight had a 17% greater risk, and those classified as obese had a 26% greater risk of incident asthma, compared with healthy-weight children. The risk of spirometry-confirmed asthma was not significantly increased in overweight children, but was increased by 29% in obese children.

The researchers explained that obesity had been linked to incident asthma in adults, but the relationship in children was less clear.

Overall, they said that reducing the onset of obesity in childhood would significantly reduce the public health burden of asthma in children, and that 10% of all asthma cases could be avoided. 

“Successful interventions which reduce paediatric obesity must be a major public health priority to improve the quality of life of children and reduce obesity’s contribution to paediatric asthma,” the team concluded.


[1] Lang J, Bunnell H, Hossain J et al. Being overweight or obese and the development of asthma. Pediatrics 2018;142(6):e20182119. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2119

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, February 2019, Vol 11, No 2;11(2):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20205936

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