Pear-shaped Homer Simpson often has severe breathing problems when he tries to pick up the pace, and it makes sense, since we have long-known that obesity is a serious risk factor for developing respiratory issues. About 39 percent of folks who are obese develop asthma.
What’s the connection? A recent lab study in the American Journal of Physiology — Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology suggests having a high body mass index triggers bodywide and localized inflammation in the lungs that leads to constriction of airways and asthma.
Fortunately, losing weight can help ease symptoms. In one Danish study from 2012, obese participants who lost 14.5 percent of their initial weight saw a “48 to 100 percent remission of asthma symptoms and use of asthma medication.”
But what hasn’t been recognized, until now, is that asthma is a risk factor for becoming obese. Another new study tracked more than 8,600 people and found 10.2 percent of folks with asthma at the start of the study had become obese at the 10-year mark; only 7.7 percent of those without asthma were obese at that point. Folks who developed asthma as adults and those with non-allergic asthma were at even greater risk of post-diagnosis obesity.
So if you develop asthma, this is one more reason to stick with a long-term asthma control regimen that works — don’t just rely on a rescue inhaler — and to increase, not decrease, your physical activity, with your doc’s approval. Let asthma sufferers David Beckham, Jerome Bettis and Jackie Joyner Kersee inspire you.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.