Aim: To assess the relationship between high body mass index (BMI) and asthma and atopic manifestations in 12-y-old children.
Methods: The relationship between high BMI and asthma symptoms was studied in 457 sixth-grade children, with (n = 161) and without (n = 296) current wheeze. High BMI was defined as > or = 75th percentile of gender-specific BMI reference values for Swedish children at 12 y of age; overweight as a subgroup of high BMI was defined as > or = 95th percentile. Children with a BMI < 75th percentile served as controls. Questionnaires were used to assess asthmatic and allergic symptoms, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness was assessed by hypertonic saline provocation tests.
Results: Current wheeze was associated with high BMI after adjustment for confounding factors (adjusted OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0-2.5) and overweight had an even more pronounced effect (adjusted OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.0-3.6). In addition, asthma severity was associated with high BMI, as evaluated by the number of wheezing episodes during the previous 12 mo among the wheezing children (adjusted OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.0-4.0). There was also an association between high BMI and the presence of eczema in wheezing children (adjusted OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.0-4.6). However, high BMI was not significantly associated with hay fever, positive skin prick tests or bronchial hyperresponsiveness.
Conclusion: The study confirms and extends a previously observed relationship between BMI and the presence of wheezing and asthma.