Prevalence and risk factors of asthma and wheezing among US adults: An analysis of the NHANES III data

Ahmed A. Arif, G. L. Delclos, E. S. Lee, S. R. Tortolero, L. W. Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


The prevalence of asthma has been on the increase in the USA and worldwide. To understand the worsening epidemiological trends of asthma, this study analysed the data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) to determine the prevalence and risk factors for asthma and wheezing among US adults. This analysis used data from 18,825 US adults aged ≥ 20 yrs who had participated in the NHANES III project. After excluding subjects with physician-diagnosed emphysema, a total of 18,393 subjects were included in the final analysis. The prevalence of current asthma (asthma) was 4.5% and the prevalence of wheezing in the previous 12 months (wheezing) was 16.4%. Mexican-Americans exhibited the lowest prevalence of asthma when compared with other race/ethnic groups. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that Mexican-Americans were less likely to report asthma when compared to non-Hispanic whites. Low education level, female sex, current and past smoking status, pet ownership, lifetime diagnosis of physician-diagnosed hay fever and obesity were all significantly associated with asthma and/or wheezing. No significant effect of indoor air pollutants, as derived from the use of household heating/cooking appliances, on asthma and wheezing was observed in this study. In conclusion, this study observed racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence of asthma and wheezing and identified several important risk factors that may contribute to development and/or exacerbation of asthma and wheezing. Contrary to earlier reports, the proxy measures of indoor air pollution used in this study were not found to be associated with increased risk of asthma and wheezing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-833
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Epidemiology
  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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