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Weight loss improves asthma control

Published: March 15, 2022

Over 40% of adults in the U.S. are obese, and among people with severe asthma, the rates are even higher; over 60% of adults with severe asthma also have obesity. Obesity is associated with severe, poorly controlled asthma, and unfortunately some standard asthma therapies (such as inhaled corticosteroids) do not work as well in people with obesity as they do in lean people with asthma. This begs the question as to whether weight loss can improve asthma control, and how much weight loss is needed to improve asthma control?

In a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Johnson and colleagues report on the efficacy of a six-month online weight loss intervention to produce weight loss in people with obesity and poorly controlled asthma. They also investigated how much weight loss was required to improve asthma control. The study was performed at two sites of the American Lung Association-Airways Clinical Research Centers Network, one in Arizona and one in Vermont. Forty-three people took part in the study, and all were assigned to a weight loss intervention administered through a weekly online chat room. People were encouraged to reduce caloric intake, keep daily food diaries, and to increase their activity level through walking.  

At the end of the study, ten participants (23%) had lost at least 5% of their initial weight. This threshold of 5% weight loss was associated with a significant improvement in asthma control, and participants reported that their overall health related quality of life was also improved. This study suggests that a relatively modest amount of weight loss might be sufficient to improve asthma control, and that the weight loss intervention can be administered separate from the site of asthma care.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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