November 20, 2012
Skin Disease Psoriasis Increases Obesity Risk In Children
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Researchers from Northwestern University recently revealed that children who have psoriasis, a common skin condition that leads to irritation and redness, also have double the chance of becoming overweight or obese.
In particular, the study, considered the largest project to look at children with psoriasis, found that kids with the skin disease in the United States had a higher likelihood (four times the odds to be exact) of becoming overweight or obese as compared to children in other countries. In addition those of Hispanic or African American descent had higher rates of developing obesity as compared to their counterparts who were of white or Asian ethnic background.
"There has been increasing attention to the association of psoriasis and metabolic risks in adults, but this study shows that the association of being overweight or obese and having psoriasis may be even higher in affected children than in adults," explained the study´s lead author Dr. Amy Paller, the hair of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a prepared statement.
"Adults with psoriasis have an increased risk of obesity, myocardial infarction, stroke and diabetes mellitus," wrote the authors in the journal article. "Recent studies also suggest the association of psoriasis with obesity in children."
615 children between five and seven years of age from nine different nations in Asia, the Americas, and Europe participated in the study. Of the participants who were diagnosed with psoriasis, 30 percent reported that they had a family member who also had the skin disease. As such, researchers believe that genetics could be involved; the genetic issue could be related to metabolism disorders as psoriasis has been linked to the same protein that stimulates insulin resistance and causes people to become overweight.
"Perhaps our U.S. environment of eating more calories and getting less exercise along with a strong genetic component for the disease hikes the risk," continued Paller, who also serves as pediatric dermatologist at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, in the statement. "This is incredibly significant“¦ It tells us these children are at increased risk of health complications (cardiac risk and insulin resistance) and need to be watched closely and treated."
With psoriasis, those affected have localized red, itchy lesions on the elbows, knees, and scalp, or all over the body.
"It's a highly visible disease which can be devastating during the all-important years of psychosocial development of childhood and adolescence," commented Paller in the statement. "It affects their social life and even their ability to participate in sports. Psoriasis has a profound effect on children's quality of life."
The investigators also looked at other measurements besides Body Mass Index (BMI) to study the connection between fat around the waist, known as adiposity, and waist-to-height ratio along with psoriasis.
"The bottom line is these kids need lifestyle intervention," noted Paller in the statement. "You can't just treat psoriasis. You've got to work with these kids to increase exercise and decrease their caloric intake to reduce their risk for metabolic diseases. Perhaps losing weight could help their psoriasis as well."
Funding from the International Psoriasis Council supported the study. Moving forward, the scientists will continue to look at the progress of psoriasis, specifically if psoriasis or excess fat comes first. They will also investigate where a high BMI is a possible sign of psoriasis developing in children.
The findings from the study were recently featured in the Archives of Dermatology.