Twice the Risk
Of all of the people that I have known who had asthma, most of them were obese. Today I discovered that obesity nearly doubles the risk for the development of asthma and is also associated with the worsening of symptoms and poor asthma control. (1) Although there is no single cause is effect, there are several factors that may play important roles.
Possible Links to Obesity
Vitamin D deficiency is common in overweight and obese individuals. It is believed that this is a result of Vitamin D being a fat soluble vitamin and therefore it may be sequestered in fat tissue in the human body. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of asthma attacks. Systemic inflammation is also suspected to play a part in the development of what is known as “obese asthma”. As fat tissue expands in the body, the distance between the fat cells increases and some of them die off. As the body tries to remove these dead cells, macrophages, the clean-up crew, come in to do the work. As this process develops chemicals that are inflammatory by nature are brought into the process and a constant state of inflammation is achieved in the obese body. As this process continues the lungs are impacted by inflammation. Gut microbiome , or the bacteria that live in our gut is also different in obese individuals. While the exact connection to the development of asthma is not completely understood, it is known that whatever inhabits our gut impacts much more than just our digestive system. Substances from the gut can circulate to other parts of our bodies and impact every part of us, including the lungs. (2)
According to the American Lung Association, while 7 percent of adults in the normal BMI range have asthma, 11 percent of adults with a BMI of 30 or more are afflicted with this dangerous disease. They also state that these people do not respond to their medications as well as normal weight individuals. People with a higher BMI are also diagnosed with depression and sleep apnea more often and both of these impact the development and control of asthma in a negative way. (3)
A study published in October 2018 in the Journal of Asthma found that obese patients with asthma who lost weight experienced improved breathing function and quality of life — particularly when they shed more than 5 percent of their weight. (4) Just think about that. If you weigh 300 pounds, then losing a mere 16 pounds can positively impact your symptoms of asthma. If you lose more, until you are within a healthy weight range, imagine the possible difference in the quality of your life. I have witnessed asthma attacks and they can be life threatening. At the very best they are terrifying and dangerous. This is a benefit of weight loss that you can appreciate very quickly.
Are You Worth $2.25?
This brings me to the question, what is your life worth? I have been obese. I know the cravings and the inability to ever be satisfied regardless of what or how much that I ate. I was a slave to those cravings for many years. While getting started in a healthy lifestyle is hard, I can assure you it is much harder to gasp for breath and be unable to be involved in activities that others take for granted because you are afraid of having an asthma attack. While there is no known cure for asthma, weight loss is recognized as a good tool for helping to control this life altering disease. The same tool, weight loss, will also decrease your chances of developing so many other diseases and disorders that can debilitate you and even take your life. The next time that those cupcakes call your name ask them if they will pay for your medications and copays that they may predispose you to accumulating. Is your life as valuable as a cupcake? According to Google, that’s about $2.00-2.25 for one that you would buy in a bakery.
Being overweight or obese is associated with a higher risk of dying prematurely than being normal weight. (5) According to Harvard, for each 5 unit increase in the BMI above 25 kg/m2, there is a 38% increase in respiratory disease mortality. These statistics and research findings cannot be ignored if you suffer from asthma. These studies were carried out by professionals in their respective fields. You can either ignore this information or you can assimilate it and become proactive concerning your health and your future and your quality of life.
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