What’s the latest thing affecting how our kids breathe? Their own weight.

While copious evidence exists that should have all of us concerned about the children’s obesity epidemic, there’s now one more reason.

Research conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research & Evaluation – and published this week in the American Journal of Epidemiology – shows a higher incidence of asthma, as well as more frequent and severe attacks, among obese and overweight children.

What’s not yet clear is the relationship between obesity and asthma, though both have increased substantially over the last 30 years.  More large-scale studies would need to be conducted to explore the link between the two.

Mary Ellen Black, PhD, the lead author of the study, notes that overweight or obese young girls and Asian-Pacific Islander children have a higher likelihood of developing the respiratory condition.  Knowing this, says Black, will allow prevention programs to be developed and shared with these high-risk populations.

This is the second study around the health of kids in the last two weeks to be published by Kaiser Permanente.  Last week, the health organization’s Institute for Health Research found that children with elevated blood pressure do not usually receive the recommended follow up visits and care.  With the challenges around diagnosing hypertension in children (because blood pressure changes as they mature), the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends following up a child’s high BP reading with another check one to two weeks later.

Matthew F. Daley, MD, a researcher at the Institute for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, notes that adult cardiovascular disease – including strokes and coronary artery disease – can start in childhood.  For that reason, proper diagnosis and management of hypertension in kids is vital for their overall, lifelong health.

Findings for both studies are part of Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing child health research.  You can read more about its work in research here.

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