Atopic eczema and the risk of obesity
Atopic eczema (also known as eczema) is a common skin problem, occurring in up to 10% of adults. It causes dry and itchy skin. Eczema can have a large impact on quality of life. For example, people with eczema may be less likely to exercise (as sweating can make eczema worse) and may have disturbed sleep, which can increase bodyweight. Being overweight or obese is very common (affecting 39% of adults worldwide) and is also linked to inflammation in the body.

This study, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK, investigated whether people with eczema are more likely to be overweight or obese than people without eczema. Researchers also investigated whether there was any link between more severe eczema and being overweight or obese. They used information (without personal identifiers) collected routinely when people visit doctors. The study included more than two million people living in England between 1998 and 2016.

It was found that people with eczema had a small (8% compared with people without eczema) increased risk of being overweight or obese. Then they investigated whether this risk was increased if the eczema was more severe, we found that, compared with people without eczema, people with mild or moderate atopic eczema had a small increased risk of being overweight or obese, but people with severe atopic eczema did not.

In summary, Researchers found that people with atopic eczema were only slightly more likely to be overweight or obese than those without eczema. In people with the severe form of the skin disease there was no link. The results from this study are reassuring for people with eczema and their carers.