If you're carrying around a few extra pounds these days, did you know that your weight could be to blame for your asthma symptoms? The connection between asthma and weight has long been recognized within the medical community, but the way these factors interrelate may be different than you'd expect. In fact, scientists delving into this relationship now believe that when it comes to understanding the link between asthma and weight, it all boils down to your body shape.

How Asthma and Weight Relate

A study performed by researchers at the Northern California Cancer Center in California looked at a group of close to 100,000 female teachers in the state in an effort to understand how their weight and their body shapes affected their risk of being asthmatic.

Their findings, which were published in the Thorax Journal Online in August of 2009, revealed some interesting connections. For instance, women who're obese are at twice of the risk of having asthma as their thinner counterparts. Further, women who're extremely obese are three times more likely to suffer from this condition. But weight alone wasn't the only factor that affected likelihood of suffering from asthma.

Risk of Being "Apple" Shaped

The researchers also discovered that women who carry their weight in their abdominal area have a third higher risk of experiencing asthma than women with smaller waists. It's also interesting to note that the women who carry their weight in their waistline, which is commonly known as having an "apple shape," don't even have to be overweight for this increased risk. Having this particular body shape seems to make them predisposed to breathing difficulties even when their Body Mass Index (BMA) is in the normal range for their height and age.

Inflammation Matters

If you wonder why women who are overweight and those who are apple shaped are at higher risk for the asthma and weight connection, the experts believe that it has to do with the fact that women with apple shaped bodies often have higher levels of visceral fat deposits, which are thought to cause inflammation in the body. When the inflammation affects the airways, this can cause asthma symptoms to occur.

This fact, especially when confirmed among such a wide group of participants in this study, therefore reveals that the actual circumference of the waist may end up being a more important measure of women's health and related risk factors than BMI has been to date.


The Thorax Journal Online