Kids eat right.

Can Your Overweight Child Develop Asthma?

By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND
Asthma inhaler - Can Overweight Kids Develop Asthma?

DAVID MARIUZ/iStock/Thinkstock

Approximately 6.3 million children in the U.S. have asthma, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. Its symptoms include shortness of breath and wheezing during exhalation. There is no cure for asthma, but medications can help control it.

What Increases the Possibility?

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, risk factors for developing asthma in childhood include having allergies, a family history of allergies or asthma, frequent respiratory infections, low birth weight, being exposed to secondhand smoke before or after birth as well as growing up in a low-income, urban environment.

Genetics, changes in airway hyper-responsiveness, changes in diet and physical activity all may play a role in asthma risk. Recently, research has focused on inflammation as a cause of the disorder. Eating a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients is associated with chronic low-level inflammation, which could aggravate the airways and contribute to the development of asthma.

Recent and emerging research also is linking obesity and high waist circumference to asthma in children. A small number of studies suggest that when children with obesity lose weight, they have an easier time managing their asthma. More research is needed in this area.

Managing the Condition

If your child has asthma, be sure to work with your pediatrician on a treatment plan that is right for your child. Consider working with a registered dietitian nutritionist to ensure your child is eating a varied and balanced diet. Offering fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack, and providing whole grains and calcium-rich foods with each meal will help them meet their needs.