Lifestyle management programme helps ease breathing problems

Losing weight to combat asthma in children

Obese children suffering from asthma can ease their breathing problems by losing weight. This was claimed by researchers from Maastricht UMC+ in an article that appeared in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. Children who participated in the study and lost weight over the span of a year and a half showed better results when it came to lung capacity, asthma control and quality of life. 'Supporting them by means of a lifestyle management programme reinforces that effect', according to the Maastricht paediatric pulmonologist Professor Edward Dompeling.

Obesity goes hand in hand with a heightened risk of various disorders, including asthma. Besides health problems, this can also have economic consequences for patients. For example, obese people with chronic breathing problems use more medication and spend more time in hospital. Obese children are especially vulnerable, making it important to intervene on time so as to prevent serious consequences. However, as of yet, there is little proof that losing weight can help with asthma control or prevent asthma entirely. The Maastricht researchers put this to the test.

Lifestyle management programme
For this study, 87 children with obesity and asthma were followed for 18 months. About half of this group followed a programme designed to make them lose weight, consisting of dietary advice, sports sessions and behavioural therapy. The other participants followed the usual healthcare programme for asthma patients. Both groups had lost weight after a year and a half, and both groups displayed fewer asthma-related symptoms. However, these positive effects were demonstrably greater for the group that had followed the lifestyle management programme. Lung capacity had improved, as well as quality of life and the ability to keep their asthma under control. Dompeling: 'This research shows that increased awareness of a healthy lifestyle makes it possible to combat breathing problems and maybe even prevent them.'

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