Children with asthma may be at higher obesity risk: Study

New York, Jan 20 (IANS) Is your kid suffering from asthma? If yes, he or she may be more likely to become obese later in childhood or in adolescence, researchers have warned.

The findings showed that young children with asthma were 51 per cent more likely to become obese over the next decade as compared to those who did not have condition in which a person's airways become inflamed.

"Early diagnosis and treatment of asthma may help prevent the childhood obesity epidemic," said Frank D. Gilliland, Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) in the US. 

Although, the researchers are unclear whether children with asthma are at higher risk for onset of obesity or whether obese children develop asthma, or both, they say that part of the problem may be a vicious cycle where asthma and obesity negatively affect each other. 

One of the reasons obesity may be more prevalent in children with asthma is because respiratory problems may cause this population to play and exercise less. 

Plus, a side effect of many asthma medications is weight gain. Elevated asthma and obesity may also contribute to the development of other metabolic diseases, including pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes in later life, Gilliland said.

"The study results also suggest that asthma inhalers may help prevent obesity in children. Although this observation warrants further study, it is interesting that the correlation exists irrespective of physical activity and other asthma medication use," Gilliland added.

For the study, the team analysed the records of 2,171 kindergarteners and first graders out of which 13.5 per cent of the children had asthma, but who were not obese. 

Over the 10 years of follow-up, 15.8 per cent of all the children developed obesity. 

Eating a healthy diet, increasing physical activity and achieving asthma control through medication can improve childrens' overall health while reducing the risk of obesity, the researchers suggested.

The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.