The Dynamic Relationship Between Asthma and Obesity in Schoolchildren

Am J Epidemiol. 2020 Jun 1;189(6):583-591. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwz257.


Asthma and obesity are among the most prevalent chronic health conditions in children. Although there has been compelling evidence of co-occurrence of asthma and obesity, it is uncertain whether asthma contributes to the development of obesity or obesity contributes to the onset of asthma or both. In this study, we used a joint transition modeling approach with cross-lagged structure to understand how asthma and obesity influence each other dynamically over time. Subjects for this study included 5,193 kindergarten and first-grade students enrolled from 13 communities in 2002-2003 in the Southern California Children's Health Study, with up to 10 years of follow-up. We found that nonobese children with diagnosed asthma at a study visit were at 37% higher odds of becoming obese by the next annual visit compared with children without asthma (odds ratio = 1.38; 95% credible interval: 1.12, 1.71). However, the presence of obesity at the current visit was not statistically significantly associated with asthma onset in the next visit (odds ratio = 1.25; 95% credible interval: 0.94, 1.62). In conclusion, childhood asthma appears to drive an increase in the onset of obesity among schoolchildren, while the onset of obesity does not necessarily imply the future onset of asthma, at least in the short term.

Keywords: asthma; joint transition modeling; obesity; schoolchildren.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors