Rationale: Childhood asthma and obesity have reached epidemic proportions worldwide, and the latter is also contributing to increasing rates of related metabolic disorders, such as diabetes. Yet, the relationship between asthma, obesity, and abnormal lipid and glucose metabolism is not well understood, nor has it been adequately explored in children.
Objectives: To analyze the relationship between asthma diagnosis and body mass in children across the entire range of weight percentile categories, and to test the hypothesis that early derangement in lipid and glucose metabolism is independently associated with increased risk for asthma.
Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of a representative sample of public school children from a statewide community-based screening program, including a total of 17,994 children, 4 to 12 years old, living in predominantly rural West Virginia, and enrolled in kindergarten, second, or fifth grade classrooms.
Measurements and main results: We analyzed demographics; family history; smoke exposure; parent-reported asthma diagnosis; body mass index; evidence of acanthosis nigricans as a marker for developing insulin resistance; and fasting serum lipid profile including total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. Regardless of their body mass index percentile, children diagnosed with asthma were more likely than children without asthma to have higher triglyceride levels and acanthosis nigricans after controlling for sex differences and smoke exposure.
Conclusions: This study provides the first set of community-based data linking asthma, body mass, and metabolic variables in children. In particular, these findings uniquely describe a statistically significant association between asthma and abnormal lipid and glucose metabolism beyond body mass index associations.