Is Asthma Piling on the Pounds?

If you have asthma and find yourself struggling with your weight, you may wonder if asthma is to blame. And according to many researchers, there could be a link.

The Facts About Asthma and Weight

There's been a growing awareness in recent years that many asthmatics are overweight. This has been a cause for concern, since studies show that people who carry extra weight could increase their chances of having chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But for some asthmatics, it's very complicated to maintain a healthy weight because in many cases, their breathing issues do not allow them to engage in activities that could help them manage their weight.

Asthma and Weight Gain: A Difficult Cycle to Break

Think about how you feel when your asthma kicks in. You're tired and have trouble catching your breath, which makes it difficult to move around. Therefore, you're more likely to skip the gym and choose sedentary activities instead. And if you don't adjust your food intake accordingly, you may find yourself gaining weight.

Conversely, the more weight you gain, the more strain you'll put on your airways and the harder it will be to start becoming active again. This can quickly become a vicious cycle that's difficult to break.

Asthma Drugs and Weight

Compounding the problem is the fact that certain asthma drugs can also make you hungrier. For instance, oral steroids that are typically used for serious asthma flare-ups can lead you to eat more. Worse, these drugs can slow down your metabolism and cause you to retain water. These factors can also lead to weight gain.

Balancing Asthma and Nutrition

The best way to tackle asthma and weight gain is to pay attention to what you eat. Make sure you're consuming a balanced diet and not eating too much or too little of any essential nutrients. Choose foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and watch your portion sizes. If you find it hard to cook for yourself when your asthma acts up, buy prepared food or plan ahead and freeze meals that will be easy to eat when you aren't feeling well.

You should also talk to your doctor about taking a multi-vitamin to make up for any deficiencies you may have. Oral steroids, in particular, can rob your body of calcium and other nutrients. Finally, use your asthma medication as directed and be active as often as you can to keep yourself in good shape.


"Nutrition Management." National Jewish Health., June 2009. Web. 21 June 2011.

"Nutrition Management - Eating with Asthma." National Jewish Health., June 2009. Web. 21 June 2011.

"Nutrition Management: Steroids and Nutrition." National Jewish Health., June 2009. Web. 21 June 2011.