“For both adults and children asthma is harder to control if you’re overweight or obese. You’re more likely to have asthma symptoms and asthma attacks. And if you do have an attack it could be more severe,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s in-house GP.
Your BMI (Body Mass Index) can tell you if you’re a healthy weight for your height. You can work out yours by using the NHS BMI healthy weight calculator.
For most adults a score of over 25 shows you’re above a healthy weight range for your height.
There’s evidence to show that if you lose excess weight there are benefits for your asthma.
You’ll notice asthma symptoms improving
That means you could feel less breathless, less wheezy, and be coughing less. And feel more able to get on with things you want to do in life.
You’ll also lower your risk of an asthma attack and needing to go to hospital because of your asthma.
Your asthma should be easier to control
You should see more benefits from your preventer medicine, keeping the inflammation down in your airways and not reacting to your triggers so much.
You may not need to use your reliever inhaler so often to deal with symptoms like coughing, wheezing and a tight chest.
“You can talk about any improvements you’ve noticed at your annual asthma review,” says Dr Andy.
“And your GP or asthma nurse can update your action plan if the dose of your medicines can be changed and see if your peak flow has improved.”
You could see other health benefits too
Losing weight brings with it lots of benefits for your general health too, including lower risk of other long-term conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
“Losing some weight also means you’re less at risk of other conditions like acid reflux and sleep apnoea, that can make asthma worse,” says Dr Andy.
“And it could mean you respond better to the flu vaccine, which is good news because flu and other viral infections are a top asthma trigger.”
Starting on a diet and exercise plan to lose weight can feel like a big deal. And it does take some effort and commitment to lose weight and keep to a healthy weight.
But there’s lots of support around to help you. And groups to help keep you motivated.
It can help to break it down into steps:
- Find out what kind of weight loss plan you like. Experts agree that for most people the best way to lose weight is with both diet and exercise. The NHS website has lots of helpful information including a 12-week diet and exercise plan to help you lose weight safely.
- See your GP or asthma nurse. They can signpost you to local weight loss and exercise groups and talk to you about losing weight and exercising safely. They can also help you make a decision about how much weight you’d like to lose to see the benefits. Together you can make losing weight part of your asthma treatment plan.
- Get more tips and advice to help you stay motivated and keep the weight off.
- Write down your reasons for wanting to lose weight, like wanting to help your asthma, feeling less breathless. And put it where you can see it every day.
Contact our Asthma UK Helpline for more support
You can call our asthma nurses on 0300 222 5800 (Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm) if you want to talk through how losing weight can help you manage your asthma symptoms better.
Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.
Last updated November 2019
Next review due November 2022