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Obesity and the prevalence of allergic diseases in schoolchildren


Takashi Kusunoki, Department of Pediatrics, Shiga Medical Center for Children, 5-7-30 Moriyama, Moriyama, Shiga 524-0022, Japan
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Although the association between obesity and bronchial asthma (BA) has been gaining more attention, few studies have been conducted concerning the relationship between obesity and other allergic diseases. The objective of this study was to determine whether and how childhood obesity is associated with allergic diseases other than BA, such as atopic dermatitis (AD), allergic rhinitis (AR), allergic conjunctivitis (AC), and either AR or AC (AR/AC). A questionnaire was administered to the parents of 50,086 Japanese schoolchildren. Associations between childhood obesity and the various allergic diseases were evaluated by univariate and multivariate logistic models. Significant associations were found between higher body mass index (BMI) and AD (p = 0.03), and lower BMI and AC (p < 0.0001), and AR/AC (p < 0.0001). There was a significantly higher prevalence of BA in girls with obesity (p = 0.009) than in those without obesity. Significantly lower prevalence of AC (p = 0.01) and AR/AC (p = 0.002) among children with obesity, and AR (p = 0.04) and AR/AC (p = 0.0004) among boys with obesity were observed than those without obesity. Those who were obese and had AD were significantly more likely to have severe symptoms (p = 0.01). Overall, childhood obesity has positive associations with BA prevalence and AD severity, whereas it has negative associations with AR and AC prevalence, especially among boys. Changes in the immunologic balance accompanied by obesity might have different effects on each type of allergic disease. Exploring the mechanisms by which childhood obesity affects allergic status should lead to new management options for childhood allergy.

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