Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors which can result in heart disease and diabetes. Researchers have now found that poor diet and lack of exercise that lead to an imbalance in metabolism may also increase a child's risk of developing asthma.
Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte and researchers from West Virginia University School of Medicine analyzed data from nearly 18,000 children aged 4 to 12 years who were taking part in the Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities (CARDIAC) project. Factors considered included triglyceride levels and evidence of acanthosis nigricans, which are raised patches of brown skin that are often biomarkers for insulin resistance.
The team also considered body mass index or BMI, and almost 21% of the children were considered obese. Fourteen percent of the children had asthma.
The researchers found that asthma prevalence among the children was strongly associated with certain symptoms of metabolic syndrome including dyslipidemia and abnormal glucose metabolism, but not weight status. Although those who were obese were more likely to have asthma, even children of a healthy weight who had imbalanced metabolism were at increased risk.
Certain metabolic factors participate in the asthma disease process by contributing to inflammation of the airways in the lungs and hyperreactivity (contraction of smooth muscle in the bronchial walls), says Dr. Piedimonte. He says that strict monitoring and control of triglyceride and glucose levels early in life may play a role in the management of chronic asthma in children.
Dr. Piedimonte would like to see the findings used as further support for universal lipid screening in children. “The rationale is that by using selective screening, we would have missed over a third of children with significant genetic dyslipidemia,” he said.
Both poor diet – one lacking in antioxidants but high in fat – and inadequate exercise play a role in the metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The goal of treatment is often weight loss (if overweight), a minimum of 30 minutes of daily moderate intensity exercise, and a lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar through diet or medication.
Cottrell L, et al “Metabolic abnormalities in children with asthma” Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010; DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201004-0603OC.
Good nutrition is important at every stage of life, from infancy through late adulthood. The basics of a balanced diet remain the same but individual nutritional needs change as you grow older. No matter what your age, it is never too late to start living a healthier life.
Whether you are 50 or 85, active or homebound, your food choices will affect your overall health in the years ahead. The risk for certain diseases associated with aging such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes can be reduced with a lifestyle that includes healthy eating. Good nutrition also helps in the treatment and recovery from illness. While healthy living can't turn back the clock, it can help you feel good longer.
Eating healthfully means consuming a variety of good foods each day. Food provides the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water you need for good health. For one reason or another your body may not be getting the right amounts of these nutrients.
There are several factors that indicate an increased risk for poor nutrition. If you have three or more of the risk factors listed below consult with Nastaran or your doctor:
- ill health
- poor eating habits
- unexpected weight gain or loss
- taking medications
- poor dental health
- economic hardship
- loneliness and lack of social contacts
- the inability to care for yourself
There are many situations where referral may be indicated including:
a new diagnosis requiring specific dietary modification (eg. diabetes, food allergy, abnormal blood lipids)
poor understanding of dietary management (eg. a patient who has had diabetes for years but has poor blood glucose control)
significant unintentional weight change (either weight loss or gain)
evidence of recent poor food intake, poor appetite or difficulty preparing or eating food (eg. poor dentition or social isolation)
deterioration of symptoms or change in care needs (especially for cancer or HIV patients or the elderly)
any nutritional deficiencies (eg. anaemia or iodine deficiency)
changes in medication prescribed that may affect dietary intake
alternative methods of feeding (eg. enteral)
texture modified food (dysphagic patients)
periodic review for chronic conditions.
When referring, it is useful to include relevant medical history, recent biochemical and metabolic test results, and details of any medications currently prescribed.