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2006: Examine Link Between Childhood Asthma and Obesity
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Examine Link Between Childhood Asthma and Obesity

Enrolling Chicago-area fifth-graders through February 2007

WINFIELD, Ill., December 29, 2006 — The Suburban Asthma Consortium (SAC) is currently seeking Chicago-area schools to participate in a study evaluating the impact of diet and exercise on childhood asthma on students in grade five. The study will be chaired by Rita Brennan, RNC, MS, of Central DuPage Hospital, a volunteer and board member of SAC. The study is funded, in part, by the American Lung Association of Illinois. The Illinois Association of Schools Nurses is also helping to promote this study. The study will begin in February 2007 and conclude in April.

“There is a lot of contradictory research on this topic,” says Brennan. “There seems to be a link between childhood obesity and asthma, but it’s never been fully explained. Many children with asthma are obese, but obesity is on the rise for all children.”

The study is designed to look at the food and diet habits, asthma symptoms and physical activity of groups of asthmatic students compared with control groups of non-asthmatic students.  Data will be analyzed to determine if a statistical correlation exists between asthma symptoms, activity, eating behaviors. SAC hopes to enroll at least 15 schools and 500 students in the study. The study will be open to any Illinois school that employs health personnel. The data analysis will be conducted by Health System Research of the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Rockford.

“The Suburban Asthma Consortium in partnership with the American Lung Association of Illinois will use the results to design educational interventions for parents and schools with a significant number of obese, asthmatic students,” states Brennan, a nurse experienced in childhood respiratory issues from her work at Central DuPage Hospital’s Pediatric Department. Outcomes will be measured after the intervention during school year 2007-2008.

The study is one of several led by Brennan and the SAC Research and Outcomes Committee. The Multi-center Emergency Department Asthma Study (MEDAS) completed early in 2006 pointed out the need to further educate health care providers and patients about proper asthma management and increase awareness that asthma is not just an urban issue, but a suburban one as well.