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Association of obesity and insulin resistance with asthma and aeroallergen sensitization


Lise Lotte N. Husemoen
Research Centre for Prevention and Health
Glostrup Hospital
Nordre Ringvej 57
Building 84/85
DK-2600 Glostrup


Background:  It has been hypothesized that obesity and insulin resistance may play a role in the development of asthma and allergy. The aim of the study was to examine the association of obesity and insulin resistance with asthma and aeroallergen sensitization.

Methods:  Cross-sectional population-based study of 3609 Danish men and women aged 30–60 years. Aeroallergen sensitization was defined as positive levels of specific IgE against a panel of inhalant allergens. Asthma was defined as self-reported physician diagnosed asthma. Allergic asthma was defined as the presence of both asthma and aeroallergen sensitization. The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance was used to estimate the degree of insulin resistance. Body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist circumference were used as measures of obesity. Data were analyzed by multiple logistic regression analyses.

Results:  Obesity was associated with increased risk of aeroallergen sensitization as well as allergic and nonallergic asthma. Insulin resistance was asssociated with aeroallergen sensitization and allergic asthma, but not nonallergic asthma. The associations of obesity with aeroallegen sensitization and allergic asthma became nonsignificant after adjustment for insulin resistance, whereas the association of obesity with nonallergic asthma was unaffected. No sex-differences were observed.

Conclusion:  Obesity may be related to an increased risk of aeroallergen sensitization and allergic asthma through mechanisms also involved in the development of insulin resistance.