Is obesity really a risk factor for asthma?

May 1, 2007

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for many diseases. Now it looks like asthma can be added to the list. A meta-analysis that was conducted by Beuther and Sutherland indicated that being overweight is associated with a 50% increase in the incidence of asthma. The risk applies to both men and women.

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for many diseases. Now it looks like asthma can be added to the list. A meta-analysis that was conducted by Beuther and Sutherland indicated that being overweight is associated with a 50% increase in the incidence of asthma. The risk applies to both men and women.

The meta-analysis included 7 studies that involved 333,102 persons. The results showed that a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher was associated with a significantly increased risk of asthma; the odds ratio (OR) was 1.51. The increased risk was observed in both men and women (Table).

The analysis also revealed a dose-response relationship between BMI and the incidence of asthma. The OR for incident asthma was 1.38 for overweight (BMI, 25 to 29.9) versus normal weight, and it was 1.92 for obese (BMI, 30 or higher) versus normal weight.

Beuther and Sutherland estimate that the number of new asthma cases in the United States would fall by as many as 250,000 per year if a significant weight loss was achieved among overweight and obese persons.