The findings of the study, which were first to show this link, according to authors, were published online in the journal Thorax. The study was directed by Subhabrata Moitra, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the division of pulmonary medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
According to a recent multinational study with more than 8700 participants, adults with asthma are more likely to become obese than adults without asthma.
Researchers from the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) discovered that individuals who have nonatopic disease, have had asthma for a longer period of time, and are receiving oral corticosteroids have a higher risk of developing these conditions.
“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,” said Moitra in a press release from ISGlobal where he conducted the research.
Moitra continued by saying that while earlier study has looked at the processes via which obesity leads to the onset of asthma, the inverse association has only lately attracted the attention of researchers.
Data from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS), a cohort study carried out between 1990 and 2014 in 11 European nations and Australia, was used by Moitra and colleagues. The several waves produced data on lung function tests, body mass index (BMI), the presence of asthma, and other factors.
The researchers made observations over the course of two study periods: ECRHS I–II, which covered the years 1990–1999 (n=7576, mean age 34 years; 51.5% women), and ECRHS II–III, which covered the years 1999–2010 (n=4976, mean age 42 years; 51.3% women). Overall, the researchers discovered that during ECRHS I–II, 9% of participants were obese, and throughout ECRHS II–III, 15% of people became obese.
Researchers used multivariable modified Possion regression to estimate relative risk (RR), and when comparing participants with and without asthma, they found that persons with asthma had a greater risk of obesity (RR=1.22; 95 percent CI, 1.07-1.38).
They also found that the risk of developing obesity was higher in adults with nonatopic disease compared to atopic disease (RR = 1.47; 95 percent CI, 1.17-1.86); in those with longer disease duration (>20 years); and in those prescribed oral corticosteroids for their asthma (RR = 1.99; 95 percent CI, 1.26-3.15). According to the authors, there is no proof that suggests physical activity is a mediating factor in the link.
“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,” said study senior author Judith Garcia-Aymerich, Ph.D., head of the Non-Communicable Diseases and Environment Programme at ISGlobal. “Regardless of the mechanisms, still unknown, our results have implications for the clinical care of adults with asthma.”