The Obesity – Asthma Connection

It is no secret that America is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Today, more Americans meet the medical standard of obesity than ever before, officially classifying it as a “disease.” Generally, obesity is characterized by excessive body fat accumulation. To understand where you fall within this disease, one of the first things you can do is assess your BMI or body mass index.  This is a number calculated using an individual’s weight and height. While this is a very simplistic way to gauge how obese a person is, it is a reasonable estimate of body fat for most people. Because obesity can be related to so many other health conditions, a high BMI (30 or over) can be an indicator of increased risk of chronic lifestyle diseases such as asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. In this blog, we will explore the link between obesity and asthma and the effects and treatment.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition resulting in inflammation and airway narrowing. This inflammation causes the airways to become sensitive to environmental triggers, such as dust, air pollution, smoke, pet dander, or cold air, and the airways fill with mucus, making breathing harder. Common symptoms include wheezing, coughing, congestion, shortness of breath, and chest tightness or pain. An asthma attack or flare-up is a sudden worsening of these symptoms, including severe wheezing, uncontrollable coughing, rapid breathing, sweating, and anxiety. These symptoms require immediate medical attention. Obesity and Asthma are two prevalent health concerns that have been on the rise globally, particularly among women and children.

Implications for Children

Childhood obesity related to asthma can have profound implications for a child’s growth, development, and quality of life. Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience more frequent asthma symptoms of greater severity compared to children who have a healthy weight. They may also be at higher risk of complications such as respiratory infections and sleep-disordered breathing. As a result, they may also require more doctor visits as well as drug therapy for their asthma.

Impact on Women’s Health

Much like children, obese adults tend to have a higher risk of asthma, particularly women. A combination of biological, environmental, and socio-cultural factors can influence the prevalence of obesity and asthma in women.  The list includes:

  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Societal body image expectations
  • Pregnancy-related factors
  • Differences in fat distribution
  • Biological differences
  • Socioeconomic factors

Women with asthma tend to have a worse quality of life and have a higher rate of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and excessive fatigue than men with asthma.

Asthma Treatment and Management

Asthma is a chronic condition that cannot be cured but can be controlled. Treatment can help control the symptoms so you can live an everyday, active life. Inhalers, devices that let you breathe in medicine, are the primary treatment. Steroids and allergy medications may also be needed if your asthma is severe.

You can also reduce your exposure to asthma triggers, such as:

  • Keeping counters, sinks, tables, and floors clean and free of clutter
  • Sealing cracks or openings in cabinets, walls, baseboards, and around plumbing
  • Using pesticide baits and traps in areas away from children and pets, following manufacturers’ instructions
  • Avoiding using sprays and foggers
  • Washing bedding regularly
  • Storing garbage outside
  • Vacuuming and dusting weekly
  • Using allergen-proof pillows and mattress covers

Set Goals for Lifestyle Changes

Evidence suggests that obesity increases the risk of developing asthma and exacerbates its severity. As an obese asthmatic patient loses weight, there will be a natural decrease in inflammation throughout the body, including in the lungs and airways. Lifestyle changes can have an effect not just on physical health but also on emotional well-being.  These changes can include:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough social interaction
  • Lowering stress
  • Moderating alcohol consumption
  • Not smoking
  • Medications for weight loss

Further research is needed to clarify the underlying issues linking these two conditions and develop targeted interventions to improve outcomes for this vulnerable population. By promoting healthy lifestyles, improving access to healthcare, and raising awareness about the link between obesity and asthma, we can strive towards better respiratory health outcomes worldwide.

alsa Research has two dedicated research facilities in Stamford and Bridgeport, CT. Since 1994, we have been committed to conducting the highest-quality clinical trials so that new, safe, and effective medications can be developed, researched, and approved for various indications and diseases. Your participation matters. For more information and to pre-qualify as a participant in a future trial, visit