Bigger Kids' Waistline Tied to Skin Problem

Psoriasis and weight problems linked in kids around the world

(RxWiki News) Across the globe, kids with chronic itchy skin problems may have to deal with their pant sizes as well. New research shows the growing link between the red, flaky patches in psoriasis and bigger waistlines among children.

Researchers wrote that if more studies show that increased weight in children precedes psoriasis, even more efforts at early weight loss and lifestyle changes will be important. 

"Bad skin? Talk to your doctor."

The study, led by Amy Paller, MD, from the Department of Dermatology at Northwestern University, included 409 children from nine countries with psoriasis. The children were enrolled in the program between June 2009 and December 2011.

These children had a history of plaque psoriasis and ranged between 5 and 17 years old. Researchers grouped the children by the severity of their skin problem ranked by doctors on a 0-5 scale. Those with mild psoriasis, or scores of 1-2, had less than 10 percent of their body covered with the skin condition.

Severe psoriasis cases scored 4-5 on the scale and covered more than 10 percent of their body.

Researchers measured the kids' body mass index, or BMI, which takes their height and weight together. Those kids who fell between the 5 and 85 percentile were at a normal weight. Anyone below 5 was underweight and over 85 were overweight.

They found about 38 percent of children with psoriasis were overweight compared to only about 21 percent of kids without the skin problem.

Children with mild psoriasis were about three and a half times as likely to be obese as children without the skin problem. Those with severe cases were about four times as likely.

Kids' weight compared to their height was significantly higher in those with psoriasis compared to kids without. The severity didn't affect the ratio.

As far as waistband size, about 21 percent of severe cases had waists above the 90th percentile. Among mild cases, only 14 percent had the bigger waistband. And, of the kids without psoriasis, only 9 percent were overweight.

Although psoriasis and obesity are linked, researchers note that it does not mean that BMI causes the skin problem.

"Children with psoriasis internationally, regardless of severity, have significantly greater odds than controls of being overweight or obese and thus are at increased risk of complications related to excess adiposity," the authors wrote in their report.

The study, funded by the International Psoriasis Council was published online November 19 in the Archives of Dermatology. The authors received grants and honoraria and served as consultants and investigators for various companies that may have a vested interest in the study results. 

Review Date: 
November 17, 2012