Obesity and asthma: pathophysiology and implications for diagnosis and management in primary care

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2014 Nov;239(11):1531-40. doi: 10.1177/1535370214525302. Epub 2014 Apr 9.


The effects of obesity on asthma diagnosis, control, and exacerbation severity are increasingly recognized; however, the underlying pathophysiology of this association is poorly understood. Mainstream clinical practice has yet to adopt aggressive management of obesity as a modifiable risk factor in asthma care, as is the case with a risk factor like tobacco or allergen exposure. This review summarizes existing data that support the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying the association between obesity and asthma, as well as the current and future state of treatment for the obese patient with asthma. Our review suggests that evidence of chronic inflammatory response linking obesity and asthma indicates a need to address obesity during asthma management, possibly using patient-centered approaches such as shared decision making. There is a need for research to better understand the mechanisms of asthma in the obese patient and to develop new therapies specifically targeted to this unique patient population.

Keywords: Asthma; obesity; phenotypes; primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Nicotiana
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Primary Health Care / methods*