Background: The prevalence of asthma and obesity is increasing concomitantly, but many aspects of this link are unclear. Our objective was to examine whether obesity is associated with asthma in three time points of life, and whether immunomodulatory adipokines, leptin and adiponectin are linked to overweight-associated asthma.
Methods: We studied the association between obesity and asthma at ages 3–18 years [mean (SD), 10 years (5), n = 3582, year 1980], 9–24 years [16 years (5), n = 2764, 1986] and 24–39 years [32 years (5), n = 2620, 2001] in a prospective cohort study and further tested for associations with serum leptin and adiponectin concentrations. Data on allergy status, smoking and other laboratory values (serum insulin, plasma C-reactive protein and serum lipid values) were also analyzed.
Results: Allergy and parental asthma were significantly associated with asthma at all ages. At ages 24–39 years, but not earlier, body mass index (BMI) (odds ratio, OR 1.05; P = 0.019) and female gender (OR 1.56; P = 0.031) were independently associated with asthma. Increase in BMI was also associated with incident asthma during adulthood (OR 1.08; P = 0.030). Levels of leptin, adiponectin or any other obesity-related biomarker were not independently associated with asthma.
Conclusions: Asthma is linked with obesity in adults, but our results do not support a significant role for leptin, adiponectin or any other obesity-related biomarker studied in this association. Other factors should be sought for better understanding the connection between obesity and asthma.