Obesity May Be a Risk Factor for Asthma, Research Indicates

   Despite a number of epidemiological studies supporting an association between asthma and obesity, controversy and inconsistency in the literature remain. In a new study the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and the development of an objective marker for asthma, methacholine airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), was investigated in adult population. 

 The study was presented at presented at CHEST 2011, the 77th annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, in Honolulu. In it, Manon Labrecque, MD, and colleagues from Hôpital Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, in Montreal, investigated the association between airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), a measurement of asthma, and BMI/obesity in 17,195 adults referred for confirmation of asthma diagnosis between 1980 and 2000.  

   They found that 5,623 patients (32.7%) demonstrated AHR. The odds ratio of  AHR increased from 1.15 for the lowest BMI (30-34.9 kg/m2) to 1.46 for the highest (>40 kg/m2). The study findings indicate that an association exists between obesity and AHR, adding further evidence to the literature supporting the view of obesity as a risk factor for asthma. 

   Dr. Labrecque and colleagues added that research is urgently needed “to further elucidate this relationship and understand the causal mechanisms of obesity and asthma association. From a public health standpoint, if asthma were added to the list of conditions related to obesity, then reducing the prevalence of obesity could be expected to produce even greater public health benefits than are currently estimated.”