Associations of physical activity with childhood asthma, a population study based on the WHO - health behaviour in school-aged children survey

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Background: Asthma in paediatric populations is one of the highest public health concerns. In this study of children and adolescents, we hypothesized that low levels of physical activity (PA) would show associations with asthma that vary by asthma outcome. The objective was to assess whether PA was associated with ever asthma and/or current asthma.

Methods: Analyses were based on 4824 Danish schoolchildren aged 11-15 years old (48.7% boys) participating in the HBSC survey. The study variables were (1) physician-diagnosed asthma (ever asthma) and (2) physician-diagnosed asthma plus wheezing and/or physician or hospital consultation for wheezing (current asthma). Associations with PA by gender were analysed with multivariate logistic regression using the "variance covariance (vce) cluster" method.

Results: The prevalence of ever asthma was 14.3% (boys) and 12.8% (girls), and that of current asthma was 6.8% (boys) and 7.0% (girls). Boys with current asthma showed important differences in low and high PA. We found inverse associations between low PA and ever asthma, odds ratio [95% confidence interval] male: .55 [.30; .99] and female: .47 [.24; .93], and current asthma, male: .27 [.12; .60] (P linear trend = .007) and female: .32 [.11; .94].

Conclusions: The lowest activity levels showed significant inverse associations with asthma, regardless of the definition. For boys, the more stringent (current asthma) of the two paediatric asthma definitions revealed a significant trend with PA, and the direction of associations shifted to positive as weekly PA increased.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalAsthma Research and Practice
Pages (from-to)1-8
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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