Airway inflammatory and spirometric measurements in obese children

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Journal Article

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Asthma, Bronchitis, Child, Obesity, Spirometry


Objectives: To investigate the association between obesity and airway inflammation and spirometric parameters in local children.

Design: Cross-sectional and observational study.

Setting: Paediatric clinics of a university-affiliated teaching hospital in Hong Kong.

Patients: Chinese subjects aged 6 to 18 years were recruited from the paediatric clinics. Obesity was defined as being 120% or more of the median weight-for-height.

Main outcome measures: Airway inflammation assessed by exhaled nitric oxide concentration; lung function evaluated by measuring forced expiratory flow in 1-second and forced vital capacity using spirometry; and peak expiratory flow rate measured by using a mini-Wright peak flow meter.

Results: Fifty-five subjects were recruited into four groups as follows: 13 non-obese controls, 16 obese non-asthmatics, 15 non-obese asthmatics, and 11 obese asthmatics. The median (interquartile range) exhaled nitric oxide concentrations of these groups were 17.6 (14.4-20.9), 33.3 (26.1-75.4), 65.7 (32.0-110.0) and 49.2 (41.1-82.6) parts per billion, respectively (P=0.001 for trend). Post-hoc analysis revealed higher exhaled nitric oxide concentration in the latter three groups (obese and/or asthmatic subjects) than controls (P< or =0.002). Exhaled nitric oxide concentration did not differ among obese non-asthmatics, non-obese asthmatics, and obese asthmatics (P>0.1 for all). In non-asthmatics, exhaled nitric oxide concentration correlated positively with age (P=0.048), weight-for-height z-score (P=0.001), and forced vital capacity (P=0.009). Weight-for-height z-score correlated positively with forced vital capacity (P=0.041), but inversely with the forced expiratory flow in 1-second/forced vital capacity ratio (P=0.049). Such correlations were not observed in asthmatic children.

Conclusion: Increased airway inflammation as revealed by exhaled nitric oxide concentration was found in obese non-asthmatic children. Weight-for-height z-score as an indicator of childhood obesity correlated with exhaled nitric oxide concentration and spirometric parameters in children without asthma. Nonetheless, concomitant obesity does not influence exhaled nitric oxide concentration in asthmatic children. Further studies are needed to identify the pathophysiologic mechanisms for such associations.

Source Publication

Hong Kong Med J

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