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Asthma Health Center

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Kids With Asthma: Obesity More Likely

Researchers Say Strategies Needed to Promote Exercise
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 4, 2006 -- Children with asthma are more likely to be obese and less likely to exercise than those without the disease, a British study shows.

"Asthma was identified as a barrier to exercise by parents and children," write the University of Nottingham's Cristine Glazebrook, RGN, PhD, and colleagues in Pediatrics.

But physical activity is important for everyone, including those with asthma; nearly half the children with asthma in Glazebrook's study were overweight.

The researchers call on experts to develop strategies to promote exercise for children with asthma.

About the Study

Glazebrook's study included 117 children age 7-14 years at British health clinics.

Fifty-six of those kids had asthma and were treated at asthma clinics. The other 61 children didn't have asthma.

Researchers checked the kids' BMI (body mass index), which relates height to weight.

"Nearly half of the children in the asthma group were overweight," the researchers write, noting that more than 20% of the asthmatic kids were obese.

In comparison, only about 30% of the kids without asthma were overweight or obese, with 7% in the obese category.

Sidelined by Asthma

The kids with asthma were less physically active, based on surveys completed by the children and their parents.

Two-thirds of the children and almost as many parents in the asthma group said asthma was a big reason why the children skimped on physical activity.

A third of the asthmatic children said better control of their asthma would help them be more active.

The children's social and economic backgrounds don't seem to explain the results, the researchers note.

Tips for Exercising

With care or pretreatment, people with asthma can exercise normally and often vigorously.

Those with asthma generally do better with exercise in environments with relatively high humidity since exercise-induced airway narrowing (bronchospasm) is caused by drying of the airways.

Slow warm-up and cooldown periods with exercise also helps to prevent exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB).

If you have asthma, ask your doctor about how to exercise safely.

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