medwireNews: Boys who are obese are more likely to have poor asthma control than their normal-weight peers, study results show.
However, the direction of the association in girls is influenced by ethnicity, note Luisa Borrell (City University of New York, Bronx, USA) and team.
"These findings may inform future studies investigating this complex, multifactorial association, such as examining social factors, hormonal contributions, and their interactions to affect disease expression," they comment in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The team assessed data on 2174 young people, aged 8-19 years, with asthma who participated in the Genes-environments and Admixture in Latino Americans Study and the Study of African Americans, Asthma, Genes, and Environments.
Overall, 35.6% of the participants were obese (≥95th body mass index [BMI] percentile) and 33.5% met criteria for poorly controlled asthma, based on symptoms, nighttime awakening, interference with normal activities, rescue medication use, and lung function measurements.
The researchers found that obese boys were significantly more likely to have poor asthma control than normal-weight (5th to <85th BMI percentile) boys, both before (odds ratio [OR]=1.30) and after (OR=1.33) adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, smokers in the household, asthma medication regimen, and recruitment season.
However, among girls, the association between BMI and asthma control varied with race/ethnicity.
Indeed, after adjustment for confounding factors, obese African-American girls were less likely to have poor asthma control than their normal-weight counterparts (OR=0.65).
In contrast, obese Mexican-American girls were at greater risk for poor asthma control than their normal-weight peers (OR=1.91).
Borrell et al conclude: "Our results suggest that asthma control is associated with elevated BMI among boys regardless of age and race/ethnicity. However, for girls, the direction of this association is dependent on race/ethnicity."
They add that the findings highlight potential public health interventions: "It may be helpful to manage obesity among boys, younger girls, and Mexican American girls with asthma more carefully - with more frequent visits and more aggressive medication regimens - to achieve better asthma control.
"However, it may be beneficial to help maintain a healthy BMI and implement weight management treatment programs to eliminate or reduce the effect of obesity on asthma control among children and adolescents regardless of age, sex, and race/ethnicity."
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