Effects of Childhood Asthma on the Development of Obesity among School-aged Children

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Asthma and obesity often occur together in children. It is unknown whether asthma contributes to the childhood obesity epidemic.


We aimed to investigate the effects of asthma and asthma medication use on the development of childhood obesity.


The primary analysis was conducted among 2,171 nonobese children who were 5-8 years of age at study enrollment in the Southern California Children's Health Study (CHS) and were followed for up to 10 years. A replication analysis was performed in an independent sample of 2,684 CHS children followed from a mean age of 9.7 to 17.8 years.

Measurements and Main Results:

Height and weight were measured annually to classify children into normal, overweight, and obese categories. Asthma status was ascertained by parent- or self-reported physician-diagnosed asthma. Cox proportional hazards models were fitted to assess associations of asthma history with obesity incidence during follow-up. We found that children with a diagnosis of asthma at cohort entry were at 51% increased risk of developing obesity during childhood and adolescence compared with children without asthma at baseline (hazard ratio, 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-2.10) after adjusting for confounders. Use of asthma rescue medications at cohort entry reduced the risk of developing obesity (hazard ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.33-0.96). In addition, the significant association between a history of asthma and an increased risk of developing obesity was replicated in an independent CHS sample.


Children with asthma may be at higher risk of obesity. Asthma rescue medication use appeared to reduce obesity risk independent of physical activity.

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