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What is the effect of BMI on asthma in children?

Researchers recently conducted a systematic review and meta-analyses to investigate the link between asthma and BMI.

Asthma is a long-term respiratory syndrome that can have a serious effect on children’s health. This clinical syndrome involves inflammation of the lungs and hyper-responsiveness of the airways. It is a syndrome that can be caused by many factors such as hereditary traits, pollution, infection and exposure to things such as cigarette smoke. In 2011, it was estimated that 7.1 million people under the age of 18 years had asthma.

The possible link between BMI and asthma is controversial

The link between body mass index (BMI) and asthma is a controversial topic. Over recent years the prevalence of obesity in children has risen dramatically, and obesity can cause shortness of breath. It is an established fact that fatty tissue around the chest increases the pressure and blood volume in the area, this has a detrimental effect on the respiratory system.

Researchers recently carried out a recent systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the link between BMI and asthma. This review,  conducted by two researchers in Iran and published in BMC Pediatrics, used various electronic databases including Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, and ProQuest. Following the review of 2511 articles, they used 16 studies suitable studies for meta-analysis.

Higher risk of asthma in overweight or obese children

The results of this review concluded that the risk of asthma in individuals who were overweight or obese, as determined by their BMI, was 1.64 and 1.92 times respectively more likely than those with normal weight or underweight.

The link between obesity and asthma may be explained by a number of hypotheses such as hormonal effects, genetic factors and the type of asthma itself. With many other causative factors identified during this review, the researchers highlighted that asthma is the outcome of various combinations of genetic and environmental factors which we are yet to fully understand. However, the researchers of this review also highlighted that there are a number of confounding factors including atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, and other forms of allergies.

Future epidemiological researches are needed to study these confounding factors that affect the link between BMI and asthma in order to provide us with better knowledge and understanding.

Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer

Reference: Azizpour. Y et al. (2018). Effect of childhood BMI on asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control studies. Available: Last accessed 18th May 2018.

Jade Evans MPharm
Jade Evans MPharm
Jade obtained her Master of Pharmacy degree from Cardiff University, UK in 2015 and then went on to work as a Pharmacist within the NHS, across both the hospital and community sectors. In 2017, she began her work for the medical news bulletin and moved to Perth, Australia. She is now working at Perth Children’s Hospital working in the Anaesthetic and Pain Management Research Group.


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