Asthma severity, exacerbation risk, and controller treatment burden in underweight and obese children

J Asthma. 2012 Jun;49(5):456-63. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2012.677895. Epub 2012 Apr 25.


Objective: The relationship between weight status and asthma characteristics in children remains inadequately defined. Very little has been published on the risk of exacerbation, physician perception of severity, and the level controller treatment prescribed to underweight and obese children with asthma in a real-world setting.

Methods: We assessed the diagnostic severity, pulmonary function, exacerbation prevalence, and controller treatment level in 10,559 new asthma patients seen at one of four pediatric asthma subspecialty clinics among three BMI groups. Participants were analyzed by body mass index (BMI)-percentile based on Centers for Disease Control & Prevention classification. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between BMI-percentile cohort group and asthma outcomes. RESULTS. Underweight asthmatics were rare (2.5%) relative to obese asthmatics but appeared to have the greatest impairment in forced vital capacity and had the greatest controller treatment burden. Obese asthmatic children made up 26.2% of our cohort and were more likely to have severe disease (odds ratio (OR) 1.40, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06-1.85) and airflow obstruction (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.16-1.59) compared to normal weight asthmatics. Obese asthmatics were not at greater risk for exacerbation (OR 1.41, 95% CI 0.64-3.11) or high treatment burden (OR 1.03, 95% CI 0.83-1.28). CONCLUSIONS. Obesity is more common than underweight status among children with asthma. Both underweight and obese children with asthma have worse lung function and asthma-related outcomes compared to similar normal weight children, though the phenotypic characteristics of underweight and obese asthmatics differed considerably.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates / physiology
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thinness / complications*
  • Thinness / physiopathology
  • Vital Capacity / physiology