Do obese inner-city children with asthma have more symptoms than nonobese children with asthma?

Peter F. Belamarich, Elisabeth Luder, Meyer Kattan, Herman Mitchell, Shaheen Islam, Henry Lynn, Ellen F. Crain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Objective. To test whether obesity is associated with decreased peak expiratory flow rates (PEFR), increased asthma symptoms, and increased health service use. Design/Methods. Secondary analysis of data from a cross-sectional convenience sample. Setting. Emergency departments (EDs) and primary care clinics in 8 inner-city areas in 7 cities. Participants. One thousand three hundred twenty-two children aged 4 to 9 years with asthma. Measures. Obesity was defined as a body mass index (BMI, weight/height2) >95th percentile. Nonobese children were those with a BMI between the 5th and 95th percentile. Underweight children with a BMI <5th percentile were eliminated from the study. Demographic and anthropometric data were obtained during a baseline interview with the primary caretaker and the child. Symptoms, health service use data and measurements of PEFR were obtained by parental report during the baseline interview and at 3-month intervals by telephone interview over the following 9-month period. Results. Obese (n = 249) and nonobese (n = 1073) children did not differ in terms of age, gender, family income, passive smoke exposure, caretaker's mental health, and skin test reactivity to indoor allergens. Obese children were more often Latino (28% vs 17%) and, in the 3 months before the baseline interview, were more likely to have used oral steroids (30% vs 24%). There were no differences between groups in terms of baseline PEFR scores. During the 9 months after baseline assessment, the obese group had a higher mean number of days of wheeze per 2-week period (4.0 vs 3.4), and a greater proportion of obese individuals had unscheduled ED visits (39% vs 31%). There were no differences between the groups in terms of frequency of hospitalization, or in nocturnal awakening. Conclusions. In our sample of inner-city children with asthma, obese children used more medicine, wheezed more, and a greater proportion had unscheduled ED visits than the nonobese children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1436-1441
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Children
  • Inner-city
  • Obesity
  • Peak expiratory flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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