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Children With Psoriasis Have an Increased Risk for Obesity

A new report shows children with psoriasis have increased health challenges.

Scale-- by Suzanne Boothby

The Gist

A study of children in nine countries demonstrates that those with psoriasis have an increased risk for gaining weight or becoming obese, regardless of psoriasis severity.

Scientists have found a link with adults in previous studies, but now children are at risk as well.

Psoriasis is both physically and psychologically taxing, as it causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin creating itchy, dry, red patches that can be painful.

“Adults with psoriasis have an increased risk of obesity, myocardial infarction, stroke, and diabetes mellitus,” the study authors wrote. “Recent studies also suggest the association of psoriasis with obesity in children.”

The Expert Take

Children with psoriasis have an increased risk for complications related to excess fat, according to the study.

“Should further studies show excess adiposity to be a precursor for psoriasis, attempts at early weight loss and lifestyle modification will be important, not only to decrease the risk of metabolic disease but also to modulate the course of pediatric psoriasis,” the study authors wrote.

Being overweight or obese increases an adult’s chances of developing psoriasis. But one study from the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases reported a link between body mass index, or BMI, and psoriatic arthritis, too.

“We’re now able to say psoriasis patients have an increased risk of psoriatic arthritis if they are heavy,” said study author Thorvardur Jon Love, MD, an assistant professor of rheumatology at Landspitali University Hospital in Reykjavik, Iceland. “Patients—in particular psoriasis patients who are obese—should consider this another reason to lose weight. And in patients with a family history of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, physicians should keep in mind that weight loss could benefit [them] in this new way, in addition to other ways we already know.”

Source and Method

Amy S. Paller, M.D., with Northwestern University, Chicago, and colleagues examined the association between excess adiposity (body mass index percentile) and central adiposity (waist circumference percentile and waist-to-height ratio) with pediatric psoriasis severity.

The authors conducted a cross-sectional study of 409 children with psoriasis and 205 control children from nine countries. Psoriasis was classified as mild or severe. Excess adiposity occurred in almost 40 percent of children with psoriasis, as compared to about 20 percent of children in the control group. Additionally, waist-to-height ratio was significantly higher in children with psoriasis than those in the control group, but it was unaffected by psoriasis severity.

Children with severe psoriasis at its worst, but mild psoriasis at enrollment, showed no significant difference in excess or central adiposity than children whose psoriasis remained severe.

The Takeaway

The report, published online by Archives of Dermatology, a JAMA Network publication, shows the connection of psoriasis with obesity and children. This information adds to the growing body of evidence that weight management and lifestyle habits are an important ways to curb pediatric psoriasis.

Other Research

A 2006 study examined the relationship between psoriasis and obesity, and found that loosing weight could improve psoriasis symptoms.

In 2007, scientists published research in the British Journal of Dermatology that looked at the pathophysiology of both psoriasis and obesity, and found they shared many cytokines.

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Tags: Awareness , Latest Studies & Research , Epidemics

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The Healthline Editorial team writes about the latest health news, policy, and research.