Asthma in the obese may be caused by excess weight

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 13, 2006

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Symptoms suggestive of asthma among patients who are obese may be a result of the extra poundage rather than inflammation, according to a study published in the September Chest.

Researchers simulated class 1 obesity in eight lean volunteers by having them wear vests weighed down with birdshot. Antigravity suits also were used to increase the pulmonary capillary blood volume. Subjects were then given a methacholine challenge test and had their airway responsiveness assessed. The excess weight caused reductions in expiratory reserve volume, functional residual capacity and total lung capacity.

An association between obesity and asthma has been confirmed by several studies, but it remains unclear how the link operates. Researchers concluded that the decreased lung volume in those who are obese increases airway responsiveness that could be leading to the development of this condition.

"Asthma symptoms seen in people who are overweight may be caused by the obesity-related increased pressure on the chest wall," said Frank J. Cerny, PhD, one of the authors and professor emeritus of pediatrics and exercise and nutrition sciences in the University at Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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