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15-07-2009 | Respiratory | Article

Untreated asthma linked to reduced fitness and increased weight in children


Free abstract

MedWire News: Children with untreated asthma tend to be less fit and are more likely to be overweight than children without the respiratory condition, Danish research shows.

“The ability to participate in daily physical activities is considered important for a child's social, psychological, and physical health and development (including long-term prevention of life style associated diseases). Therefore, the ability to participate in normal physical activity is one of the goals in pediatric asthma management,” explain Signe Vahlkvist and S Pedersen from the University of Southern Denmark in Kolding.

However, they add that studies assessing the influence of untreated asthma and asthma control on physical activity levels, and various outcomes related to physical activity, “have varied in design, outcome measures, and conclusions, and the clinical characterization of the patients has generally been sparse.”

To investigate further, the researchers studied 57 children, aged between 6 and 14 years, with newly diagnosed and untreated asthma and 157 healthy, age and gender-matched controls.

The participants’ physical fitness and daily physical activity levels were assessed, and their body composition (fat, lean tissue, and bone mass), weight, resting blood pressure, and heart rate were measured.

The team found that children with untreated asthma were less fit than controls, at 35.1 versus 39.3 ml O2/min/kg on a bicycle fitness test, and had a higher body fat percentage, at 22.8% versus 19.5%.

Children with untreated asthma were also more likely to be overweight than controls, at 24.6% versus 14.2%.

However, there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in overall daily activity, time spent in high or vigorous activity, blood pressure, resting heart rate, bone mineral density, or lean tissue mass.

Within the asthma group, the level of asthma control, fitness, and the time spent in vigorous activity correlated positively.

Vahlkvist and team conclude in the journal Allergy: “Children with untreated, newly diagnosed asthma are less fit and have a higher body per cent fat and frequency of overweight than their healthy age- and sex-matched peers.

“Uncontrolled asthma is statistically significantly associated with a reduced fitness and time spent in intensive activity during the day.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Mark Cowen

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