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Is There a Link Between Asthma and Being Overweight?

Studies show that asthma rates are rising faster among people who are overweight. For both adults and children, asthma symptoms and asthma attacks are harder to control if you are overweight or obese and they can be more severe.  

A 2018 study in the Journal of Paediatrics found that obese children had a 26-38% increased risk of developing asthma compared to their peers who maintained a healthy weight. 

A growing body of evidence suggests that obesity also increases the risk for developing asthma – researchers are still investigating the mechanisms behind this, but there is a clear link between the two. 

One factor may be that being obese or overweight and carrying excess weight around the trunk reduces your lung capacity. Diets that are high in sugar and processed foods, which correlate with higher rates of obesity, can also increase inflammation in the lungs and exacerbate asthma symptoms.  

The comorbidities that come with obesity, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes and hypertension, have also been found to worsen asthma symptoms. 

While it is not yet clear whether being obese increases the risk of developing asthma, there is strong evidence that, if you suffer from asthma already, being overweight increases the severity of your symptoms. Losing weight will help your symptoms and reduce the risk of asthma attacks, leaving you freer to get on with the activities you enjoy in life.  

A study published in October 2018 found that obese patients with asthma who lost weight experienced improved breathing function and quality of life, particularly when they shed more than 5% of their weight.  

Weight loss through proper nutrition and regular exercise is a great start to not only help you have a better quality of life but to also help you breathe.

Remember, if you do think you are suffering from asthma, always seek advice and treatment from your doctor.  

One of our head trainers, Elliott has written a helpful what, when and why guide to help you action losing stubborn body fat, read it here.


Lang JE, Bunnell HT, Hossain MJ, Wysocki T, Lima JJ, Finkel TH, Bacharier L, Dempsey A, Sarzynski L, Test M, Forrest CB. Being Overweight or Obese and the Development of Asthma. The Journal of Paediatrics. 2018 Dec;142(6):e20182119. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2119. PMID: 30478238.

Mohanan, S., Tapp, H., McWilliams, A., & Dulin, M. (2014). Obesity and asthma: pathophysiology and implications for diagnosis and management in primary care. Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 239(11), 1531–1540. 

Peters, U., Dixon, A. E., & Forno, E. (2018). Obesity and asthma. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 141(4), 1169–1179. 

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