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25-08-2009 | Respiratory | Article

Waistline linked to asthma risk in women



MedWire News: Women with a large waist circumference are more likely to develop asthma than those with smaller waists, even if they have a normal body mass index (BMI), researchers have found.

The findings, published in the journal Thorax, also add to growing evidence of a link between excess weight and increased asthma severity.

Julie Von Behren (Northern California Cancer Center, Berkeley, USA) and team studied data on 88,304 women, aged at least 18 years, who participated in The California Teachers Study.

Information on waist circumference, BMI, asthma diagnoses, smoking, and other variables were collected in 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2005.

In total, 11,500 women were obese (BMI 30 kg/m2 or higher) in 1995, including 1334 who were extremely obese (BMI of 40 kg/m2 or higher).

Analysis revealed that women who were obese at baseline were more than twice as likely to have adult-onset asthma as women with a normal weight (BMI less than 25 kg/m2), while those who were extremely obese were more than three times more likely to have the condition.

The team also found that women with a waist circumference of more than 88 cm were significantly more likely to have adult-onset asthma than their thinner counterparts, even among those with a normal BMI, at an odds ratio of 1.37.

In obese women, the risk for adult-onset asthma was also higher among those with larger waist circumferences than among those with smaller waists.

Women who were obese and overweight were also at greater risk for severe asthma attacks than their normal-weight counterparts, as indicated by increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

The researchers conclude: “All measures of obesity were strongly associated with increased asthma prevalence. Even being modestly overweight was associated with higher asthma prevalence in this population.”

They add: “These findings are particularly troubling because a majority of American adults are now overweight or obese. The current prevalence of obesity in US adults is estimated at 32% and the prevalence of overweight and obesity combined is 66%.”

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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