Asthma and obesity: it has been clear for some time that the two often go together. Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lungs that cannot be cured. Overweight or obesity is having too high a fat percentage. Fortunately, in most cases something can be done about this. What is the relationship between asthma and obesity?
Asthma, what is that?
Almost everyone has heard of asthma, and most know that it has something to do with breathing. Many people describe it as ‘wheezing’. There are several forms of asthma. They are all characterized by labored breathing. The mucous membranes in the lungs are constantly irritated and inflamed. The disease is chronic and still cannot be cured. Asthma is increasingly treatable to minimize symptoms. People with asthma are extra sensitive to external stimuli such as exhaust fumes, dust, pets, pollen or other substances. The lungs overreact to these stimuli, resulting in coughing attacks and shortness of breath.
And when are you overweight?
Obesity is becoming increasingly common. On average, almost half of the population is overweight and is moderately to severely overweight. Nearly 12 percent of children are overweight. Overweight is indicated by BMI. A BMI higher than 25 means you are overweight. Between 25 and 35 we speak of being moderately overweight. A BMI higher than 35 is seriously overweight. Although obesity is common in the Netherlands, it could be worse. In America, more than two-thirds of the population is overweight. And in American Samoa, more than 93% of the population is overweight. Our German neighbors also score high: just like in America, two-thirds of the population there is overweight.
Obesity in relation to asthma
Overweight people are more likely to develop asthma. And people with asthma are increasingly overweight. There is a clear link between obesity and asthma. Various studies have been done and they are all unambiguous: asthma and obesity appear to be closely linked. But to what extent is still not entirely clear. It is also clear that overweight patients have more difficulty controlling their asthma and require more medication. Losing weight helps in most cases: in many asthmatic patients, the use of medication for asthma decreases considerably when their body weight assumes a healthy shape.
Eczema, allergies and obesity
Asthma is more often associated with allergies. For example, eczema, which is often seen in combination with asthma, is an inflammatory response caused by an allergy. Patients with asthma very often have allergies to different substances. Obesity has also long been associated with asthma. Obesity is known to deteriorate lung function. Certain inflammatory substances have also been found in people with asthma, which also occur in overweight people. It is still unclear how this can be linked to each other. More research will need to be conducted into this. It is clear that asthma patients who were not overweight had a higher chance of becoming overweight. This is especially clear in children: children diagnosed with asthma often gain weight more quickly. Two years later, some of these patients are overweight.
Fast food increases the risk
Children who eat a lot of fast food increase the risk of asthma. It was assumed that fast food was eaten frequently: three or more times a week. Fast food is mainly found at McDonald’s, but this also includes homemade fries. Furthermore, pizza, sausage rolls and all other fatty snacks can be classified as fast food. Young children have an increased risk of 28 percent and adolescents even an increased risk of 40 percent when consuming three or more portions of fast food per week. Parents therefore play an important role in the development of fast food. It is important to provide children with healthy food and also make them aware of the bad effects of fast food. Just think of the harmful trans fats that fast food contains. In addition to asthma, there is also an increased risk of heart disease.
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