Asthma Prevalence Higher in Heavier Women

April 10, 2016
Mark L. Fuerst
Mark L. Fuerst

New analysis of NCHS data found that obese women have nearly 2X the prevalence of asthma as women of normal weight.

Obese women have nearly twice the prevalence of asthma as women of normal weight, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The authors, Lara J. Akinbami and Cheryl D. Fryar, from NCHS used data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to gauge current asthma prevalence by weight status among US adults aged 20 years and older.

Women with obesity (BMI ≥30) had higher current asthma prevalence (14.6%) than those in normal weight (7.9%) and overweight (9.1%) categories. Current asthma prevalence did not differ significantly by weight status for men.

“Among adults with obesity, women had significantly higher current asthma prevalence compared with men. For both the normal weight and overweight categories, there was no significant difference in current asthma prevalence between men and women,” the authors stated.

From 2001–2002 to 2013–2014, current asthma prevalence significantly increased among adults. By weight status, asthma prevalence increased among adults in the overweight category but not among adults in normal weight or obese categories. Current asthma prevalence increased among adults in the overweight category from 5.6% in 2001–2012 to 8.4% in 2013–2014.

“During 2011–2014, current asthma prevalence was 8.8% among adults overall. Prevalence was significantly higher among adults with obesity (11.1%) compared with adults in normal weight (7.1%) and overweight (7.8%) categories,” they stated.

Current asthma prevalence was higher among adults with obesity than among those with normal weight for all race and Hispanic origin groups.

“The prevalence of current asthma among non-Hispanic white adults with obesity (10.9%) was significantly higher than among those in the normal weight (8.1%) category. Among non-Hispanic black adults, the prevalence of current asthma among adults with obesity (13.6%) was significantly higher than among those in the overweight (7.5%) and normal weight (6.6%) categories,” they stated.

Across all adult age groups, current asthma prevalence was significantly higher among adults with obesity compared with those in lower weight categories. “For all age groups, adults with obesity had significantly higher current asthma prevalence than adults in the normal weight and overweight categories. For example, among adults aged 20–39, asthma prevalence was 11.1% among adults with obesity, 8.1% among adults in the overweight category, and 7.5% among adults in the normal weight category,” they stated.

Among adults aged 60 and over, there was a significant trend of increasing asthma prevalence with weight status, 7.0% among normal weight adults, 9.1% among overweight adults, and 11.6% among adults with obesity.

Obesity is a major risk factor for asthma, according to the conclusion of an American Thoracic Society workshop on obesity and asthma, the authors noted. The workshop conclusion suggested that obesity-related asthma is likely different from other types of asthma, such as allergic, occupational, exercise-induced, nocturnal, aspirin-sensitive, and severe asthma.

The NCHS released the data brief in March 2016.

Citation: Akinbami LJ, Fryar CD. Asthma prevalence by weight status among adults: United States, 2001–2014. NCHS data brief, no 239. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db239.pdf