Does early onset asthma increase childhood obesity risk? A pooled analysis of 16 European cohorts

Zuelma A. Contreras, Zhanghua Chen, Theano Roumeliotaki, Isabella Annesi-Maesano, Nour Baiz, Andrea von Berg, Anna Bergstrom, Sarah Crozier, Liesbeth Duijts, Sandra Ekstrom, Esben Eller, Maria P. Fantini, Henrik Fomsgaard Kjaer, Francesco Forastiere, Beatrix Gerhard, Davide Gori, Margreet W. Harskamp-van Ginkel, Joachim Heinrich, Carmen Iniguez, Hazel InskipThomas Keil, Manolis Kogevinas, Susanne Lau, Irina Lehmann, Dieter Maier, Evelien R. van Meel, Monique Mommers, Mario Murcia, Daniela Porta, Henriette A. Smit, Marie Standl, Nikos Stratakis, Jordi Sunyer, Carel Thijs, Maties Torrent, Tanja G. M. Vrijkotte, Alet H. Wijga, Kiros Berhane, Frank Gilliland, Leda Chatzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The parallel epidemics of childhood asthma and obesity over the past few decades have spurred research into obesity as a risk factor for asthma. However, little is known regarding the role of asthma in obesity incidence. We examined whether early-onset asthma and related phenotypes are associated with the risk of developing obesity in childhood.

This study includes 21 130 children born from 1990 to 2008 in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK. We followed non-obese children at 3-4 years of age for incident obesity up to 8 years of age. Physician-diagnosed asthma, wheezing and allergic rhinitis were assessed up to 3-4 years of age.

Children with physician-diagnosed asthma had a higher risk for incident obesity than those without asthma (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.66, 95% CI 1.18-2.33). Children with active asthma (wheeze in the last 12 months and physician-diagnosed asthma) exhibited a higher risk for obesity (aHR 1.98, 95% CI 1.31-3.00) than those without wheeze and asthma. Persistent wheezing was associated with increased risk for incident obesity compared to never wheezers (aHR 1.51, 95% CI 1.08-2.09).

Early-onset asthma and wheezing may contribute to an increased risk of developing obesity in later childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800504
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018



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