Abdominal obesity, a risk factor for obstructive airway disease in women |
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Abdominal obesity, a risk factor for obstructive airway disease in women
Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India,  26 February 2022
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Obese women, including those with abdominal obesity, are at higher risk of developing asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suggests a new study from South Korea published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

In this study, 1,644,635 women, aged 30 years and older, who underwent national cancer screening in 2009 were examined to determine the effect of body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) on risk of COPD and asthma in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. They were divided into five groups based on BMI: <18.5 kg/m2 (underweight), 18.5-23 kg/m2 (normal weight), 23-25 kg/m2 (overweight), 25-30 kg/m2 (obese) and ≥30 kg/m2 (severe obesity). Similarly, there were five groups as per the waist circumference (<60 cm, 65-75 cm, 75-85 cm, 85-95 cm, and ≥95 cm). these women had no past history of COPD or asthma.

The incidence of asthma and COPD was found to be higher in the high BMI and waist circumference groups. This association was unrelated to the menopausal status. Higher the BMI and waist circumference, greater was the risk. Obese women in both groups had similar higher risk for asthma (HR 1.22 in premenopausal and HR 1.23 in postmenopausal women). Women with waist circumference ≥95 cm in both groups were at higher risk for asthma and COPD (HR 1.72 in premenopausal and HR 1.55 in postmenopausal women).. An interesting finding of note was that being underweight also increased the risk of COPD and asthma in postmenopausal women (HR = 1.18).

This study, which analysed data from more than one million women concluded that obesity and abdominal obesity are risk factors for COPD and asthma in women, whether premenopausal and postmenopausal. Hence, it is important to control and maintain a healthy body weight to ward off the risk of these obstructive airway diseases, besides avoiding tobacco use. A healthy body weight also promotes overall general good health.


  1. Lee CW, et al. Obesity and abdominal obesity are risk factors for airway obstructive diseases in Korean women. Menopause. 2022. Feb. 22. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001958.
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