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Obese kids more likely to develop asthma

Kids who are obese have up to double the risk of developing asthma compared to their non-obese classmates, says a group of experts in yet another warning call to parents of overweight children.



Obesity and asthma share a variety of common factors, experts say, including the overproduction of cytokines -- substances with inflammatory effects -- when triggered by different stimuli.

Based on this theory, physicians calculated that the frequency of asthma in obese children can be up to double that of their slimmer counterparts, experts heard at the 2nd annual Pediatric Allergy and Asthma Meeting (PAAM 2011) meeting in Barcelona, which wrapped up October 15.

Experts also discussed how the Mediterranean-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish has been shown to help protect against both obesity and asthma -- which can start as early as in vitro.

A recent study published out of the University of Greenwich, for example, found that children born to overweight mothers had a 30 percent higher chance of developing asthma as teenagers, compared to women who had a healthy pre-pregnancy weight.

Another Norwegian study concluded that people who carry excessive belly fat were almost twice as likely to develop asthma. While the study ended there, scientists postulate obesity, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome all play a role in the development of asthma.

While counterintuitive, experts at the Barcelona conference also agreed on the importance of promoting physical activity among children with asthma. In addition to fighting obesity, sports help strengthen the cardiopulmonary system, which helps sufferers better manage their asthma attacks, while the same is true of the opposite: lack of exercise leads to a weakened respiratory capacity.

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