Early-Onset Asthma/Wheezing Associated With Later Childhood Obesity

Children with asthma had a 66% higher risk for incident obesity compared with children without asthma.

The development of obesity later in childhood may be related to early-onset asthma and wheezing, according to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal.  However, the factors that drive this relationship are still unclear.

This study included 21,130 children (mean age, 4.1±0.6 years). Children with asthma were had a 66% higher risk for incident obesity (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.66; 95% CI, 1.18-2.33) compared with children without asthma. In addition, a wheeze at the start of the study was associated with a 1.29 (95% CI, 1.00-1.67) times greater risk for obesity compared with children who did not have wheeze. An active asthma diagnosis was associated with an even higher risk for obesity (aHR, 1.98; 95% CI, 1.31-3.00) vs children who did not have asthma or wheezing.

Children who wheezed as infants had a similar risk for incident obesity as those who wheezed at baseline (aHR, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.99-1.52). Persistent wheezing was also linked with a higher risk for obesity (aHR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.08-2.09) compared with children with late-onset or transient wheezing (aHR, 1.12; 95% CI-0.77-163 and aHR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.81-1.39, respectively).

Questionnaires were administered to collect data on allergic rhinitis, wheeze, and asthma among participants. Covariates including birth weight, child sex, and maternal smoking while pregnant were collected as possible covariates. A pooled analysis comprised the main analysis, which combined data from 16 cohorts. A random effect was introduced to address potential variations between cohorts, and multiple sensitivity analyses were performed.

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“Our findings lend support for further investigation of the factors driving the increased risk of obesity in asthmatic children to better tailor future obesity prevention efforts,” the researchers concluded.


Contreras ZA, Chen Z, Roumeliotaki T, et al. Does early onset asthma increase childhood obesity risk? A pooled analysis of 16 European cohorts [published online September 27, 2018]. Eur Respir J. doi:10.1183/13993003.00504-2018