May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Obese children and teens are at increased risk for allergies, especially food allergies, say U.S. researchers.
The study authors analyzed data from 4,111 participants, aged 2 to 19, who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and found that obese children and teens were 26 percent more likely to have any kind of allergy, and 59 percent more likely to have a food allergy, than their normal-weight peers.
"We found a positive association between obesity and allergies," senior author Dr. Darryl Zeldin, acting clinical director at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), said in an institute news release. "While the results from this study are interesting, they do not prove that obesity causes allergies. More research is needed to further investigate this potential link."
The study is in the May issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"Given that the prevalence of both obesity and allergic disease has increased among children over the last several decades, it is important to understand and, if possible, prevent these epidemics," lead author Cynthia M. Visness, a scientist at Rho Federal Systems Division Inc., in Chapel Hill, N.C., said in the news release.
"Seeing a possible link between obesity and allergies provides additional motivation for undertaking the challenge of reducing childhood obesity," added Linda Birnbaum, NIEHS director.
SOURCE: U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, news release, May 4, 2009