Allergies Linked to Obesity

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Allergies Linked to Obesity

Obesity rates among young people are rising. So is the number of young people with asthma and allergies. Now, a new study of the largest nationally representative data set of allergy and asthma information ever assembled in the United States says there might be a connection.

According to an article published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, obese children and adolescents are at increased risk of having some kind of allergy – especially food allergies.

The study is the first to be published using new data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large national data set collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control.

People with allergies and asthma tend to have elevated levels of an allergen-specific immunoglobulin-E, or IGE, in their bodies. After crunching the numbers from the case files of more than 4000 children and young adults from 2 to 19 years old, the researchers found higher levels of I-g-E among the kids who were obese or overweight. Obese children were about 26 percent more likely to have allergies of any kind than children of normal weight, and 59 percent more likely to have a food allergy.

Correlation is, of course, not the same as cause. The presence of elevated I-g-E levels and allergy symptoms in the test subjects may be entirely coincidental, or related to some as yet unidentified third factor.

The researchers of this study say that more research is needed to determine a definitive link between obesity and allergies.

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