But doctors also recognize that asthma may not behave the same way among people who have different body types. With a variety of asthma medications on the market, what kinds work best for lean people and what kinds work best for obese people? The answer may be different for each group.
A new study suggests that people who are overweight or obese may have better results with the prescription pill sold as Singulair than with a type of inhaled steroid, while leaner people may have better luck with an inhaled steroid, called beclomethasone and sold as beclovent, vanceril and other brand names. The findings appear in the new issue of the European Respiratory Journal.
"It is increasingly recognized that obese people are more prone to develop asthma, but there is no information about whether obesity influences people's responses to particular asthma medications," says lead author Marc Peters-Golden, M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Fellowship Program in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.
"Our findings are the first to suggest the possibility that obesity might be a factor that influences how well asthmatics respond to particular medications," Peters-Golden says.
Singulair is the brand name of montelukast sodium and is sold by Merck & Co., which funded this study.
Researchers looked at data from four previous multi-center, randomized clinical trials from 3,073 patients with moderate asthma. The data included the patients' responses to Singulair/montelukast, a beclomethasone inhaled steroid and a placebo, and the participants' body mass index numbers, which placed them in the categories of normal, overweight and obese.