Participants needed for study into asthma medications and weight gain

May 14 2012

With winter approaching, Hunter researchers hope to shed light on the potential side effects of common asthma medications.

Asthma prevalence in Australia is particularly high, with around 10 per cent of the population suffering from the disease, and the colder weather can be a danger period for many asthmatics.

The University of Newcastle researchers are now seeking people over 18 with a confirmed diagnosis of asthma to participate in a study investigating whether the current standard medication for the treatment of asthma attacks causes changes in body composition, including weight gain.

Professor Peter Gibson

“There is some anecdotal evidence that oral corticosteroid medications may increase appetite and lead to weight gain when used to treat other conditions,” study co-investigator Professor Peter Gibson* said.

“As doctors, people often tell us they are worried about side effects of their asthma treatment, but we need more information to be able to advise them correctly. This study will fill that gap by very carefully looking at the use of medicines in asthma.”

Co-investigator Dr Lisa Wood** said that obesity was a growing problem and hadmany detrimental effects on health, including increasing asthma symptoms.

“It is important we understand whether asthma medications are leading to weight gain in people who use them,” Dr Wood said.

“During the study there will be careful asthma assessment, participants will have their diet analysed by a qualified dietitian and given advice on healthy eating.Body composition will also be assessed with state of the art technology.”

The researchers are also reminding people that with winter on the way, asthmatics should be well prepared as cold and flu infections, woodfire smoke and changes in the weather are common asthma triggers.

“As it gets colder, we see more presentations with asthma exacerbations, so it is important to manage your asthma and have an up to date asthma management plan,” Professor Gibson said.

“This study has the potential to improve the lives of approximately two million Australians who are living with asthma.”

Professor Gibson urges people with asthma that would like to volunteer for the study to contact Bronwyn Berthon on 4985 5649 or

* Professor Gibson is a Hunter New England Health respiratory specialist and Co-Director of the University’s Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Disease. ** Dr Wood is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle. Both conduct research in collaboration with HMRI’s Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma Research Program.