Doctors have long suspected a link between obesity and asthma, but it may be an underlying cause of obesity — poor metabolism due to inactivity or an unhealthy diet — that is actually related to the respiratory condition. New research suggests that children of average and below-average weight who also have metabolic problems have the same rates of asthma as obese kids.
Researchers in West Virginia studied the relationship between asthma and signs of imbalanced metabolism, such as high triglycerides and a dark ring of skin around the neck, which indicates insulin resistance — a precursor to diabetes. Of the 17,944 West Virginia public school children in kindergarten, 2nd and 5th grades who were part of the study, 38% were overweight or obese and 21% were obese or morbidly obese.
The correlation between body mass index and asthma was significant, but once gender, cigarette smoke exposure and BMI were controlled for, an even more significant correlation was found between symptoms of metabolic dysfunction and asthma.
The results, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, contribute to the already compelling argument that childhood diets are an important factor in the health and well being of the adults they become. Now, just being a healthy weight doesn’t cut it — healthy habits are important as well.