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Obesity Linked to Asthma in Children

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens who are overweight or obese are more likely to have asthma than their healthy-weight peers, a new study finds.

The strength of the association between asthma and obesity varied by race and ethnicity. The strongest association between body-mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight, and asthma was found in Hispanic youth, while the link between being overweight or obese and having asthma was weakest in black children.

"This research contributes to the growing evidence that there is a relationship between childhood obesity and asthma, and suggests that factors related to race and ethnicity, particularly for Hispanic youth, may [influence] this relationship," study author Mary Helen Black, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, said in a Kaiser Permanente news release.

The study is published in the online edition of Obesity.

Using electronic health records, researchers examined height and weight measurements, asthma diagnoses and asthma-specific medications for 681,000 children aged 6 to 19. About 18 percent of the youth, who were racially and ethnically diverse, had asthma.

Obese and overweight kids who had asthma made more frequent visits to the doctor and emergency room for asthma-related issues. These overweight kids also used more inhaled and oral corticosteroid asthma drugs than their normal-weight peers.

Although the study found an association between asthma and being obese or overweight, it has not yet been proven that excess weight causes asthma.

More information

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America provides more information on childhood asthma.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Kaiser Permanente, news release, Feb. 27, 2012

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