Higher body mass index may induce asthma among adolescents with pre-asthmatic symptoms: a prospective cohort study

Wen-Chao Ho; Yu-Sheng Lin; Caffrey, James L.; Meng-Hung Lin; Hui-Tsung Hsu; Myers, Leann; Pau-Chung Chen; Ruey-Shiung Lin
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p542
Academic Journal
Background: Limited studies have prospectively examined the role of body mass index (BMI) as a major risk factor for asthma during adolescence. This study investigates whether BMI is associated with increased risk of developing physician-diagnosed asthma during 12-month follow-up among adolescents with undiagnosed asthma-like symptoms at baseline. Methods: A total of 4,052 adolescents with undiagnosed asthma-like symptoms at baseline were re-examined after a 12-month follow-up. Asthma cases were considered confirmed only after diagnosis by a physician based on the New England core and International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) criteria video questionnaires, and accompanying pulmonary function tests. Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate the relationship of BMI and the risk of acquiring asthma. Results: The results indicated that girls with higher BMI were at an increased risk of developing asthma during the 12-month follow-up. The odds ratios for girls developing physician-diagnosed asthma were 1.75 (95% CI = 1.18- 2.61) and 1.12 (95% CI = 0.76-1.67), respectively, for overweight and obesity as compared to the normal weight reference group after adjustment for other covariates. A similar relationship was not observed for overweight and obese boys who were also significantly more active than their female counterparts. Conclusions: Increased BMI exaggerates the risk of acquiring asthma in symptomatic adolescent females but not in adolescent males. Thus, gender is an important modifier of BMI-related asthma risk. Additional research will be required to determine whether the increased asthma risk results from genetic, physiological or behavioural differences.


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