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Obesity and childhood asthma – mechanisms and manifestations

Jensen, Megan E.; Wood, Lisa G.; Gibson, Peter G.

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: April 2012 - Volume 12 - Issue 2 - p 186–192
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e3283508df5
PEDIATRIC ASTHMA AND DEVELOPMENT OF ATOPY: Edited by Carlos E. Baena-Cagnani and Leonard B. Bacharier

Purpose of review Obesity is a chronic condition affecting children worldwide. However, the prevalence is higher in asthmatic children. Obese children most likely become obese adults. Understanding the clinical presentation of this subgroup is essential to their clinical management, now and in the future. This review highlights the most recent findings over the past 18 months in understanding the presentation and potential mechanisms of obesity in childhood asthma.

Recent findings Recent research suggests that inhaled corticosteroid efficacy is reduced in obese asthmatic children whereas ventilatory function and bronchoreactivity appear to be marginally affected. A paucity of studies describing airway inflammation and lung volume measurements in this subgroup limits their clinical characterization. Recent studies indicate metabolic abnormalities that typically manifest with excess adiposity may be associated with asthma, providing an interesting factor in the asthmaobesity link. The inception, persistence and composition of obesity prove important considerations for future studies.

Summary Highlighted is the need for more descriptive airway inflammation studies, lung volume assessments and longitudinal studies to better characterize the obese asthma phenotype in children and understand the pathogenesis from childhood to adulthood. Understanding the manifestations and mechanisms of obese asthma in childhood will help direct clinical management and targeted therapeutic interventions.

aDepartment of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Hunter Medical Research Institute, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW 2310, Australia

bCentre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases, University of Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia

Correspondence to Peter Gibson, Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Level 3, Hunter Medical Research Institute, John Hunter Hospital, Locked Bag 1, Hunter Region Mail Centre, Newcastle, NSW 2310, Australia. Tel: +61 2 4921 3467; fax: +61 2 4985 5850; e-mail:

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