Fat children are at greater risk of asthma than children of normal weight, finds a study published in Thorax.
Researchers at King's College London, investigated a representative sample of almost 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 11 in Scotland and England, and in addition included more than 5000 children from 20 English inner city areas. The data were collected in 1993 and 1994.
Seventeen out of every 100 children had asthma, but reported asthma attacks were lower among inner city children, while wheezing was twice as common. Asthma and wheezing were significantly associated with weight, with the heaviest children the most likely to have these symptoms. The link was stronger in girls than in boys, but only for children living in inner city areas.
The study suggests that obesity is a risk factor for asthma in children. Similar associations have been reported in adults, and studies in the US have found that obesity precedes asthma. There is no obvious explanation for why fat girls should be more prone to asthma than fat boys, say the authors. But the hormone leptin, levels of which are higher in girls, and which is produced by fat tissue in the body, may be part of the answer.
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