Weight Change In Older Women May Result in Asthma

By Fiorella M. | Updated: Aug 02, 2016


Review on January 07, 2010

Weight gain and asthma

Asthma is a huge problem in the United States, affecting at least five percent of the population each year. Unfortunately, this number continues to rise annually. In 1990 alone more than six billion dollars was spent on medical expenditures related to asthma. Another huge problem affecting Americans is obesity. More studies are needed to determine the relationship between asthmas and obesity. Specifically, more studies are needed to determine the direct relationship between obesity and the onset of asthma in adults. These studies, as well as a few more recent ones, attempt to learn more about the risk factors of asthma and weight change so that fewer people will be affected by the condition.

Asthma is a disease that affects the lungs. It causes the muscles around the airways to tighten. They become inflamed and swell causing irritation in the airways. When the airways close it causes symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. If asthma is left untreated it can result in long-term loss of lung function.

Since asthma makes it hard to breath it is also hard for individuals who have asthma to take part in physically challenging activities. Because of activity limitations individuals with asthma might experience a weight change.

Weight gain and muscle

A study was conducted on female registered nurses in the Nurses' Health Study. This study was performed to determine the connection between lifestyle and diet, hormone use and weight change in occurrence with breast cancer and other illnesses. Using data from 85,911 members between the ages of 26 to 46 years the result of physician-diagnosed asthma and recent use of an asthma medication was determined. Members filled out questionnaires asking about age, race, current height and weight, weight at age 18, physical activity, smoking status, diet and medical history. During the 2 year follow up participants were asked to report their waist-hip ratio by measuring the largest circumference around their hips and waist while standing up.


The results showed that older women tended to have higher body mass index, to partake in less physical activity and larger energy intake. The obese women at baseline often weighed more at 18 years old and gained more weight during the ensuing years. This weight change had a significant effect on the development of adult onset asthma. Women who lost weight after 18 years of age were at a slightly decreased risk of developing adult asthma. High body mass index also attributed to the onset of adult asthma.Such findings suggest that in the United States asthma is mainly cause by obesity and weight change.

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