Wheeze and asthma in children: associations with body mass index, sports, television viewing, and diet

Epidemiology. 2008 Sep;19(5):747-55. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181776213.


Background: Obesity, physical activity, and dietary habits are distinct but strongly interrelated lifestyle factors that may be relevant to the prevalence of wheeze and asthma in children. Our goal was to analyze the relationship of body mass index (BMI), regular sports participation, TV viewing, and diet with current wheezing and asthma.

Methods: We investigated 20,016 children, aged 6-7 years, who were enrolled in a population-based study. Parents completed standardized questionnaires. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), while adjusting for several confounders and simultaneously considering BMI, regular sports activity, TV viewing and selected dietary items.

Results: A total of 1575 children (7.9%) reported current wheezing and 1343 (6.7%) reported current asthma. In a multivariate model, an elevated BMI was associated with wheeze and current asthma: children from the highest quintile (compared with the lowest quintile) had an increased risk of wheeze (OR = 1.47; CI = 1.20-1.82) or current asthma (1.61; 1.28-2.01). Wheeze or asthma was not associated with regular sports activity. Subjects who spent 5 or more hours per day watching television were more likely to experience wheeze (1.53; 1.08-2.17) or current asthma (1.51; 1.04-2.2) compared with those who viewed TV less than 1 hour a day. Adding salt to food was strongly and independently associated with current wheeze (2.58; 1.41-4.71) and current asthma (2.68; 1.41-5.09).

Conclusions: Our data support the hypothesis that high body weight, spending a lot of time watching television, and a salty diet each independently increase the risk of asthma symptoms in children.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Life Style*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Respiratory Sounds*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Television*


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary