Obesity-induced asthma in kids on the rise

Unhealthy lifestyle like dependence on tech, long sitting hours, avoiding household chores increasing incidence.
Knowing your triggers and avoiding them are absolutely critical for asthma control.
Knowing your triggers and avoiding them are absolutely critical for asthma control.

BENGALURU: Obesity-induced asthma among schoolchildren is on the rise due to various factors, including unhealthy eating habits and prolonged screen time, which calls for sitting for long hours. This form of asthma is linked to inflammation triggered by exposure to pollutants and smoke. Its treatment poses increased challenges when compared to hereditary asthma.

Dr Srikanta JT, Consultant, Paediatric Interventional Pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital, explained that there are two types of asthma -- Type 1, linked to hereditary factors and is often manageable, and Type 2 which is triggered by obesity.

Childhood obesity is frequently associated with inflammation, often caused by exposure to pollutants and smoke, leading to chronic inflammation and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in children and at times in adolescents. The primary cause is excessive consumption of junk food, prolonged screen hours and extended sitting that directly contribute to unhealthy weight gain, especially around muscles and cheeks, he said.

The initial symptoms of Type 2 asthma are open-mouth breathing during sleep, snoring and morning and afternoon coughing which are often a consequence of weight gain and inhalation of allergens, Dr Srikanta added.

Dr Narayanaswamy, Paediatrician and founder of Athreya Hospital said, “Asthma has various causes, but post-COVID, obesity has notably risen, impacting children adversely due to the lifestyle changes that were adopted during the pandemic. While 40% of asthma cases are hereditary, a substantial number is triggered by obesity.”

He explained that a greater mass necessitates an increased supply of oxygen to support vital tissues. However, as the demand for oxygen rises, organs like the heart and lungs, which maintain their original size, encounter difficulties in delivering oxygen due to the increased presence of body fat. With the body mass increasing, the airways restrict the passage of oxygen, resulting in asthma.

In children, the prevalence is notable because of their reliance on technology, particularly post-COVID. Besides, extensive use of technology has led to lesser physical activities and reduced engagement in household chores by children. Coupled with the consumption of foods with preservatives, these factors collectively make it challenging for the body to breathe, resulting in asthma, he said.

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