HealthDay News — Early-onset asthma and wheezing may contribute to an increased risk of developing obesity later in childhood, according to a study published in the Sept. 1 issue of the European Respiratory Journal.

Zuelma A. Contreras, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues examined whether early-onset asthma and related phenotypes are associated with the risk of developing obesity in childhood among 21,130 children (born from 1990 to 2008 in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). Non-obese children were followed from 3 to 4 years of age for incident obesity up to 8 years of age. Asthma, wheezing, and allergic rhinitis were assessed up to 3 to 4 years of age by physicians.

The researchers found that children with physician-diagnosed asthma had a higher risk for incident obesity vs those without asthma (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.66). There was a higher risk for obesity among children with active asthma (wheeze in the last 12 months and physician-diagnosed asthma; aHR, 1.98) vs those without wheeze and asthma. Compared to never wheezers, persistent wheezing was associated with increased risk for incident obesity (aHR, 1.51).

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“We care about this issue because asthma affects approximately 6.5 million children — about 1 in 10 — in the United States,” study author Lida Chatzi, MD, PhD, said in a statement. “It’s a chronic childhood disorder and if it increases the risk of obesity, we can advise parents and physicians on how to treat it and intervene to help young children grow up to enjoy healthy adult lives.”

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Two authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and nutrition companies.

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