Background

Previous research has shown relationships between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and asthma, GERD and obesity and asthma and obesity. However, there is insufficient data to confirm a link between increased symptomatology in pediatric patients with GERD, asthma and obesity. This study expands on the limited research in this area by determining the prevalence of asthma and GERD in a treatment seeking population of racially and ethnically diverse youth with severe obesity.

Methods

A subset of families seeking treatment in a Stage 3 and 4 weight management program, who consented for their data to be used in a prospective database, comprise the sample. Data on 103 youth, 60 females and 43 males, ranging from 8-19 years of age was examined.

Results

Sixteen youth were diagnosed with asthma or self-reported asthma symptoms. Of these 16, 7 were either diagnosed with GERD or reported GERD symptoms. The average Body Mass Index (BMI) and average BMI z-score of individuals with both asthma and GERD was 35.51 and +2.38 respectively. Preliminary results suggest that there is a link between increased asthma exacerbation and increased GERD symptoms. Further, results suggest that a link exists, whereas increased asthma and GERD symptoms are proportionally associated with increased BMI and BMI z-score.

Conclusions

These preliminary results indicate a relationship between GERD, asthma and obesity – three conditions which are likely to benefit from the treatment of the others. These results, in a racially and ethnically diverse sample, are critical as we find ways to improve the quality of care for youth seeking treatment for weight management. Further research is needed to better understand the relationship among the three.