The Link Between Obesity and Childhood Asthma

A recent KSAT news article shed light on a recent study that suggests a link between obesity and childhood asthma. The objective of the study, called the Noah Study, was to determine the effectiveness of a healthy diet as part of asthma treatment and control.

This study was conducted at the Nemours Children’s Hospital Asthma Center in Orlando, Florida. Its findings demonstrate the role a healthy diet plays in promoting good lung health.

Understanding Asthma in the Obese

A person with a body mass index of 30 or higher is considered obese. Being both asthmatic and obese is not a good for the body. Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways and lungs, while obesity causes inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation decreases lung volume and restricts airways. This condition could affect the effectiveness of asthma medications.

The researchers reviewed results of past similar trials that showed that obese children have reduced lung function and respond to normal asthma medications in a reduced manner. Obese children may not get the full benefit of normal asthma medicines, although the reason why has yet to be determined.

Most asthmatic children have what is known as allergic asthma, which is related to allergy-related inflammatory cells called eosinophils. Researchers found that obese children and adults have less eosinophils and more of another type of inflammatory cell called neutrophils. These are less responsive to traditional asthma medications.

Study Results

The amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the human diet has decreased over the course of many generations, a trend researchers believe has contributed to the increase in asthma in recent decades. Participants in the Noah study followed an exercise and diet program, with a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables.

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that have an anti-inflammatory effect that may reduce inflammation associated with asthma. Certain types of fish such as salmon, mackerel and lake trout are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. There are also omega-3 fish oil supplements. Study participants had to limit their consumption of fried and fatty foods.

One 14-year-old study participant has not needed his asthma medication since May 2014, according to his mother. The boy follows a healthy diet according to the study protocols, logs his food intake and takes an omega-3 supplement. According to the article, the healthy diet boosted his energy level as well.

For researchers, these results mean that weight reduction and dietary changes can be an effective part of asthma treatment in children as well as adults. Exercise improves lung function, and even asthmatics can begin an exercise program slowly and under the guidance of their doctor. There are also exercises that provide a good aerobic workout without stressing the joints, such as walking or swimming.

Asthma does not have to dampen your enjoyment of physical activity–unless you let it. You can control your asthma, rather than letting it control you.

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