April 28, 2022
2 min read
Disclosures: Garcia-Aymerich reports no relevant financial disclosures. Moitra reports receiving the Long-Term Research fellowship and Young Scientist Sponsorship from the European Respiratory Society. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
Adults with asthma, particularly those with longer duration or non-atopic disease or who take oral corticosteroids, have a higher risk for obesity compared with adults without asthma, according to findings published in Thorax.
“Several studies have shown that asthma and obesity share some common socioeconomic, behavioral and environmental risk factors that can lead to the development of both diseases.” Subhabrata Moitra, PhD postdoctoral fellow in the department of medicine at the University of Alberta in Canada, said in a related press release. “Some previous research focused on the mechanisms by which obesity could lead to asthma, but the inverse relationship had not received much attention until recently.”
Researchers collected data from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS), a cohort study conducted in three waves between 1990 and 2014 in 11 countries in Europe and Australia. The observational study included 7,576 participants during the ECRHS I-II period of 1990-1999 (mean age, 34 years; 51.5% women) and 4,976 participants during the ECRHS II-III period of 1999-2010 (mean age, 42 years; 51.3 % women).
During the ECRHS I-II period, 9% of participants developed obesity, and 15% of participants developed obesity during the ECRHS II-III period.
Researchers observed a higher risk for developing obesity among adults with asthma compared with those without asthma (RR = 1.22; 95% CI, 1.07-1.38). In addition, there was a higher risk for developing obesity among adults with non-atopic compared with atopic asthma (RR = 1.47; 95% CI, 1.17-1.86), those with longer disease duration of more than 20 years (RR = 1.32; 95% CI, 1.1-1.59) and among those prescribed oral corticosteroids (RR = 1.99; 95% CI, 1.26-3.15).
Researchers did not observe evidence of physical activity as a mediator in the association between those with asthma and obesity development.
“A potential explanation for the weight gain associated with asthma could be the reduction of physical activity in asthmatic patients. However, our results do not support this hypothesis, since the levels of physical activity in our study did not affect the observed association,” Judith Garcia-Aymerich, MD, PhD, head of the non-communicable diseases and environment research program at ISGlobal, said in the release. “Regardless of the mechanisms, still unknown, our results have implications for the clinical care of adults with asthma.”