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New Study Finds Strong Link Between Obesity and Asthma Control

New Study Finds Strong Link Between Obesity and Asthma Control

Smita Pakhale, MD, and her colleagues at The Ottawa Hospital and University of Ottawa conducted a controlled, prospective, parallel-group study on 22 obese adults with asthma and found a direct link between obesity and asthma. Participants in the study ranged in age from 18 to 75 years and had a BMI of less than 32.5 kg/m2.

16 out of 22 participants followed a behavioral weight-reduction program for three months. The six remaining participants served as control subjects. A majority of participants saw a change in airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) over the three-month period. This change in AHR served as the primary result of the study. Other outcomes included changes in asthma control, lung function, and quality of overall health.

The study’s findings indicate that weight loss and improved control of asthma symptoms and overall health are directly related.

Asthma is considered a very serious and very common condition worldwide, affecting an estimated 300 million people. Americans account for 25 million asthma sufferers according to the American Asthma Foundation. In the U.S., more than $50 billion are spent each year in health care expenses, missed education or work, and early death related to asthma.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity affects over 1/3 of adults and 17% of children in the U.S. In the last 10 years, national medical expenditures related to obesity have risen by an estimated $147 billion per year.

Obesity is associated with several chronic conditions including asthma. By contrast, individuals with a healthy BMI are less likely to suffer from asthma. People with asthma that have better weight control often find they require less medication and treatment to control the disease.

This study is the first of its kind to make use of appropriate physiologic tests as criteria for diagnosing asthma, determining normalization or improvements in AHR, asthma control, and overall health (as an impact on quality of life). Results indicate, in accordance with other findings, that a healthy weight is a highly important factor in prevention and management of asthma.

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