Study suggests obesity may cause allergies in children

5/5/2009

WASHINGTON A new study released by the National Institutes of Health Monday indicates there may be yet another reason to reduce childhood obesity — it may help prevent allergies.

The study published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that obese children and adolescents are at increased risk of having some kind of allergy, especially to a food.

“We found a positive association between obesity and allergies,” stated Darryl Zeldin, acting clinical director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and senior author on the paper.

The researchers analyzed data on children and young adults ages 2 to19 from a new national dataset designed to obtain information about allergies and asthma.

“While the results from this study are interesting, they do not prove that obesity causes allergies. More research is needed to further investigate this potential link,” Zeldin said.

“The signal for allergies seemed to be coming mostly from food allergies,” commented NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, a co-author on the study. “The rate of having a food allergy was 59% higher for obese children.”

“As childhood obesity rates rise, NIEHS will continue to work to determine how environmental factors affect this epidemic,” added Linda Birnbaum, NIEHS director. “Seeing a possible link between obesity and allergies provides additional motivation for undertaking the challenge of reducing childhood obesity.”

The study was funded by NIEHS and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both parts of the National Institutes of Health.

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