Asthma or Obesity: Which Comes First?

In recent years, scientists have recognized a link between asthma and obesity, but understanding this which problem comes first hasn't been quite as clear.

Researching the Asthma and Obesity Link

Some experts believe that asthmatics find it difficult to exercise and as a result make sedentary lifestyle choices that lead to becoming overweight.

Yet there's also the theory that when people are obese, the extra fat in the body can require more work in order to move air in and out of the lungs and can induce wheezing and breathing difficulty, which discourages exercise.

Recent Findings on Asthma and Obesity

These findings came from a study conducted by researchers from the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, and were published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine journal in December 2010. The scientists found that as many as 70 percent of the participants with asthma reported that exercise triggered their condition. Further, the higher their body mass index, the stronger their likelihood of experiencing asthma symptoms. This means that the more obese a person is, the more difficulty he may have hitting the gym. And the less he exercises, the more his weight may increase, causing a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

A Possible Protein

There's also an idea put forth by scientists from King's College in July 2007 that the asthma and obesity connection extends beyond lack of exercise. They believe that the problem may actually stem from a protein in certain people that causes inflammation in the body, leading to common respiratory symptoms and can also lead to an increase in appetite, which can result in obesity.

What You Can Do

If you are obese and suffer from asthma, regardless of which condition came first or how it occurred, it's crucial that you take steps to keep them both under control. Here are some other things you can do:

  • Ask your doctor or a nutritionist for suggestions on how to best modify your daily eating. This will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take your asthma medications as directed to control bronchial inflammation and symptoms that go along with it.
  • Engage in mild activities such as swimming and walking, which usually won't tax your sensitive respiratory system.
  • Remember that maintaining a healthy weight and staying very active are key to preventing many serious health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer.



"New Research/Asthma and obesity: complexities in their relationship." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. AAAAI, March 2010. Web, 16 Jan 2011.

"Overweight and Obesity: Health Consequences." Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 19 Aug. 2009. Web, 20 Jan. 2011.

 "Research Highlight: Hormone links asthma and obesity." Nature Reviews Immunology 7 (August 2007): 578. Web, 16 Jan. 2011.

Sheerin, Kathleen. "Which Comes First, the Weight or the Wheeze?"

Allergy & Asthma Advocate. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Summer 2008. Web, 16 Jan. 2011.

Wright, Alicia et. al. "Effect of Body Mass Index on Self-Reported Exercise-Triggered Asthma." The Physician and Sportsmedicine: Volume 38: No. 4 (Dec. 2010): 1826.