Predisposition to acute respiratory infections among overweight preadolescent children: an epidemiologic study in Poland

Public Health. 1998 May;112(3):189-95. doi: 10.1038/


This cross-sectional field health survey has as its subjects 1129 preadolescent children resident in Krakow. Trained health visitors interviewed the mothers at the children's schools or at the parents' homes in order to gather standardized information regarding the families' social background and the families' and children's respiratory health and episodes of respiratory infections. Predisposition to respiratory infections in children has been defined as frequent spells (3 or more) of acute respiratory infections experienced by a given child over the 12 months preceding the interview. Clinical examination of children consisted of anthropometric measurements and spirometric testing. Anthropometric measurements (weight and height) were used for calculation of the body mass index (kg/m2). A child whose BMI was 20 or higher was defined as overweight (90th percentile). Susceptibility to acute respiratory infections was related significantly to body mass index. The children with BMI > or = 20 experienced twice as high a risk for acute respiratory infections than children with low BMI (OR = 2.02, 95% CI: 1.13-3.59). Out of other potential factors possibly involved in the occurrence of respiratory infections only the presence of chronic respiratory symptoms (OR = 2.43, 95% CI: 1.64-3.59), allergy (OR = 1.89, 95% CI: 1.34-2.66), and Environmental Tobacco Smoke (OR = 1.54; 95% CI: 1.05-2.25) increased the susceptibility of children to acute respiratory infections. Central heating in the household was shown to have a protective effect (OR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.43-1.00) when compared with children from households where coal or gas was used for home heating.

PIP: Factors predisposing to recurrent acute respiratory infection were investigated in a cross-sectional field study of 1129 schoolchildren 9 years of age from Krakow, Poland. Predisposition to respiratory infections was defined as 3 or more spells in the 12 months preceding the 1995 study. Susceptibility to acute respiratory infections was significantly associated with body mass index. Overweight children (body mass index of 20 or higher) had twice the risk of infection than children with a lower body mass index (odds ratio (OR), 2.02; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.13-3.59). Other significant risk factors were the presence of chronic respiratory symptoms (OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.64-3.59), allergy (OR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.34-2.66), and environmental tobacco smoke (OR, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.05-2.25). Central heating in the household exerted a protective effect compared to households where coal or gas was used (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.43-1.00). The strong effect of obesity on acute respiratory infection risk was independent from other host and environmental factors. Findings of a strong correlation in these children of body weight with the lung function tests FVC and FEV further support the view that the predictive spirometric formulas for preadolescents should consider weight as an important independent predictor of lung function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Mass Index
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poland / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health