Researchers to examine kids’ weight loss and asthma

Jul 8 2009

Hunter researchers are inviting the community to participate in a world first study to investigate whether weight loss can improve asthma in children.

“We know that people with asthma experience airway inflammation, which can make breathing more difficult. Obesity may be one of several factors that contribute to airway inflammation,” said Dr Lisa Wood from the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases.

“It can be challenging to eat healthily and lose weight when our environment offers so many choices of high energy and high fat foods.

“We want to equip parents and children aged 12 to 17 with tools and resources to make healthier food choices for better quality of life.”

Parents and children who choose to participate in the study will start a healthy eating program and visit John Hunter Hospital each fortnight for three months, where the child’s asthma and airway inflammation will be monitored through breathing tests. There is also a blood test at the start and end of the study.

“Everyone who participates in our study will work with a dietitian to develop a healthy eating program that will help them lose weight,” said Dr Wood.

“If your 12 to 17 year old child has asthma and you think they have a weight problem please call us on 4922 3178 for more information and a confidential discussion.”

Asthma and obesity are increasing in many western countries. If obesity is not addressed in childhood it can lead to health problems such as heart disease and diabetes later in life. Global research has demonstrated that being significantly overweight also increases asthma risk but the reasons are unknown.

The project is funded by a Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) grant from the Gastronomic Lunch of the Year, held in Newcastle last month.

Dr Wood is a member of HMRI’s Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma (VIVA) Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

Dr Lisa Wood