Asthma prevalence is significantly higher among adults with obesity, compared with adults in lower weight categories, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

NCHS researchers Lara J. Akinbami, MD, and Cheryl D. Fryar, MSPH, examined epidemiologic studies of asthma prevalence. Information was gathered from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) conducted between 2001 and 2014. Data collected between 2011 and 2014 were used to examine the difference between demographic subgroups of gender and race.

Drs Akinbami and Fryar found that between 2001 and 2014, asthma prevalence was 8.8% among adults; prevalence was higher among obese adults (11.1%) when compared with adults who had a normal weight (7.1%) and overweight adults (7.8%). Women with obesity had the highest asthma prevalence (14.6%), while men with obesity showed no significant differences in asthma prevalence based on weight.

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Data also showed that the rates of asthma among non-Hispanic white adults with obesity were at 10.9%, compared with those who had a normal weight (8.1%). Among non-Hispanic black adults, current asthma prevalence was significantly higher (13.6%), compared with those within the normal weight category (6.6%).

“Findings from an American Thoracic Society workshop on obesity and asthma concluded that obesity is a major risk factor for asthma,” the authors concluded, “and that obesity-related asthma is likely different from other types of asthma.”


  1. Akinbami LJ, Fryar CD. Current asthma prevalence by weight status among adults: United States, 2001-2014. NHCS data brief, no. 239. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Updated March 16, 2016. Accessed March 17, 2016.