(HealthDay News) – Obese youth are more likely to develop asthma, and are more likely to have severe asthma, according to a study published online Aug. 6 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

In order to examine the correlation between obesity and asthma risk, Mary Helen Black, PhD, from Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, and colleagues extracted demographic and clinical information from administrative and electronic health records of 623,358 patients aged 6–19 years who were enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California health plan (2007–2011).

The researchers found that the crude incidence of asthma varied from 16.9/1,000 person-years among normal-weight youth to 22.3/1,000 person-years for extremely obese youth. Compared to those of normal weight, the adjusted risk of asthma for overweight, moderately obese, and extremely obese youth was 1.16, 1.23, and 1.37, respectively (P-trend<0.0001). For Asian/Pacific Islanders and the youngest girls (ages 6–10), the correlation between obesity and asthma risk was strongest. Of those who developed asthma, exacerbations requiring emergency department services and/or treatment with oral corticosteroids were more frequent among those who were moderately or extremely obese.

“In conclusion, obese youth are not only more likely to develop asthma, they may be more likely to have severe asthma, resulting in greater need for health care utilization and aggressive asthma treatment,” the authors write.

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