NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – For people with asthma, those who are obese are nearly five times more likely than their non-obese peers to be hospitalized for asthma, new research indicates.

The findings come from a study of 1113 members of a healthcare organization who were at least 35 years of age and had active asthma.

In examining the impact of obesity on asthma outcomes, Dr. David M. Mosen from Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon, and colleagues adjusted for a number of factors known to affect such outcomes, including smoking, oral steroid medication, and gastric reflux disease.

Compared with normal weight subjects, obese individuals were 2.7 times more likely to have poor asthma control, and 4.6 times more likely to have a history of asthma-related hospitalization, Mosen’s team reports in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The take-home message of this study, said study co-author Dr. Michael Schatz, from Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, in a statement, “is that obese people with asthma need to be followed more carefully because it’s harder to control their asthma, so they are more likely to end up in the hospital.”

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, September 2008.