Researchers have found fat in overweight and obese people’s lungs. It’s the first time such a discovery has been made and could provide important clues as to why overweight and obese people have an increased risk of asthma.
For the research, a team from Australia analysed lung samples from 52 deceased individuals. They found the amount of fat present increased in line with Body Mass Index (BMI).
Being overweight/obese is already linked to having asthma, but it was previously thought that excess weight pressing on the lungs was the main reason for this.
However, the Australian researchers say fatty tissue in the walls of airways takes up space and causes inflammation, which can lead to wheezing and asthma.
Speaking about the findings of the research, which are published in the European Respiratory Journal, Dr Peter Noble from the University of Western Australia said: “We’ve found that excess fat accumulates in the airway walls where it takes up space and seems to increase inflammation within the lungs.
“We think this is causing a thickening of the airways that limits the flow of air in and out of the lungs, and that could at least partly explain an increase in asthma symptoms.”
Experts say that more research is now needed to find out whether the build-up of fatty tissue could be reversed through weight loss. In the meantime, asthma patients should be supported to achieve a healthy weight.