The prevalence of asthma and obesity has risen significantly over the past several decades. Both conditions are considered inflammatory conditions. In 2012, the prevalence of asthma in the U.S. was 8.2 percent, affecting 25.5 million people. This large asthma burden and the continued adverse outcomes is an ongoing public health challenge, including the effort to enhance uptake of underutilized management strategies to control symptoms. At the same time, 34 percent of the adult population 20 years and older living in the U.S. are considered obese. Healthy People 2010 identified overweight and obesity as one of 10 leading health indicators and called for a reduction in the population of children and adolescents who are overweight or obese. Progress has not been made toward that goal.
To address these issues, the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Obesity and Asthma: Awareness and Self-Management (PA-14-316), designed to stimulate research that examines the relationship between asthma, obesity, and self-management. Previous research focusing on altering dietary habits and physical activity has targeted individuals as opposed to families. The resulting interventions have been generally unsuccessful in establishing long-term behavior change.
The FOA notes that a number of environmental influences spanning community, societal, national, and international environments are correlated with an increased prevalence of obesity. In addition, many studies have supported the link between asthma and obesity. Because both conditions have their beginnings in early life, NINR seeks to support research that explores an aspect of the relationship between obesity and asthma and self-management in early life along with the transition to adulthood.
The areas of interest for the FOA includes, but are not limited to:
- Examining environmental factors, including built environments; diet composition; macro- and micronutrient availability; total caloric intake that may trigger, modulate, or play permissive roles in the development of asthma and/or obesity and its role on management;
- Designing intervention studies to determine the impact of weight loss to include self-management in obese individuals with asthma;
- Determining the possible associations between asthma-induced low physical activity lifestyle and predilection for obesity and effects on management; and
- Examining possible relationships between asthma, sleep disorders, and obesity and self-management behavior.