Physical activity, restrictions in activity, and body mass index among urban children with persistent asthma.

Publication Date: 
Mar 07, 2017

BACKGROUND: Asthma and obesity are public health problems that disproportionately affect underserved children. Urban children with asthma may be limited in their participation in physical activity, further increasing their risk for overweight.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity among high-risk children with persistent asthma, to assess physical activity and activity restrictions by level of asthma control, and to evaluate whether activity is associated with weight status.

METHODS: We analyzed baseline data from 324 urban children with poorly controlled asthma (3-10 years old) enrolled in the School-Based Telemedicine Enhanced Asthma Management program in Rochester, New York. Caregivers reported their child's asthma symptoms, physical activity, and activity limitation, and height and weight were measured.

RESULTS: Most children were black (59%), and 69% had Medicaid. Almost half (47%) of children had symptoms that indicated poorly controlled asthma, 15% were overweight, and 31% were obese. Few children (39%) participated in 1 or more hour of physical activity per day. In addition, most (85%) did not walk to and from school, 38% did not have any recess in school, and 35% reported no safe place to exercise. More children with very poorly controlled asthma symptoms, compared with children with more mild symptoms, reported limitation in gym class (58% vs 43%, P = .01) and even in mild activities (28% vs 14%, P = .004). Children with activity limitation were at significantly greater odds of being overweight or obese (odds ratio, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-3.8).

CONCLUSION: Many children with persistent asthma are overweight or obese, have limited opportunity for activity, and experience activity limitations. Efforts are needed to optimize asthma control and provide opportunity for increased physical activity in and outside school.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT01650844.