More Evidence Obesity Is Bigger Asthma Risk for Women

Weight plays different sex-related roles in the likelihood children with asthma will be able to control their condition in early adulthood, a Danish study found.

Having been overweight as a child seems to have an opposite opposite effect on controlling asthma in women than in men although researchers aren't sure why.

Growing up as an overweight girl raised the risk of asthma hospitalization in women, while in men being an underweight boy raised that risk.

A Danish study reported that overweight women until the age of 45 have a 39 percent increased risk of hospitalization for asthma if they had an above average BMI (body mass index) when they were between seven and 13 years old.

By contrast, men in the same age group had a 24 percent greater risk of being admitted to a hospital because of their asthma if they were underweight as boys.

"Our findings present an intriguing look at the differences we see between men and women when we identify predictors of asthma among children," said Charlotte Suppli Ulrik, MD who presented the research earlier this month at the European Respiratory Society's International Congress in London. "This could be due to a range of factors including levels of physical activity, lung mechanics, and different environmental factors," she said. Ulrick is a clinical professor in the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at Hvidovre Hospital at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

The study was based on a review of annual BMI records in 321,830 children aged seven to 13 from the Copenhagen School Health Records Registry. This data was then correlated with records on 1,962 asthma related hospital admissions collected in the National Patient Registry.

In a 2013 literature review, Ulrick and colleagues found correlations between obesity and poor asthma control and differences between male and female asthmatics. "Currently available published studies clearly show that obese patients with asthma have more severe asthma symptoms, poorer asthma control, and, furthermore, a less favorable response to asthma therapy as assessed by symptoms," they wrote.

They also remarked on the coincident doubling of the prevalence of obesity from 1980 to 2008 and "likewise a dramatic increase in the reported prevalence of asthma," the team wrote.

"We hope that our findings can aid clinicians identifying asthma risks in different individuals," Ulrik said, referring to the research she presented in London. "By understanding which individuals are at risk of developing more severe asthma, we can encourage life style changes that can help reduce this risk."

Further reading:

Asthma: Obesity Is a Factor More in Girls than in Boys

Losing Weight Key in Improving Asthma in Obese Patients