Excess weight has been associated with asthma severity, and some studies indicate that overweight people may not respond well to standard asthma medications like inhaled corticosteroids. But most studies have been done with older children and adults; research among young children has been limited.

A recent Duke University study focused on children with asthma ages 2-5 and found that overweight children had more frequent asthma flares than children who were not overweight.

The overweight children in the study experienced 37 more days of asthma symptoms – and more severe flares – than those at a healthy weight.

Unlike other studies, however, the children’s weight did not affect their medication: Both groups found symptom relief with inhaled corticosteroids.

“Weight does not hamper the effectiveness of inhaled steroids in preschoolers, but this study provides clear evidence that maintaining a healthy weight in preschoolers may be an effective strategy for controlling asthma,” says Jason Lang, MD, who directs Duke University School of Medicine’s children’s pulmonary function laboratory.