Web edition: January 14, 2013
Print edition: February 23, 2013; Vol.183 #4 (p. 11)
A diet high in fast food seems to increase the risk of asthma in young children and adolescents, survey data from more than a half-million people finds. Consuming milk and fruit at least three times a week appears to protect against the breathing disorder in all youngsters, while vegetables, eggs and cereal in the diet seem to reduce the odds of asthma in young kids more than in adolescents.
Dozens of countries contributed dietary information from standard questionnaires to the study, published online January 14 in Thorax by Philippa Ellwood of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and colleagues. The study accounted for differences among the children apart from diet. The younger group included kids ages 6 and 7; the adolescents were 13 to 14 years old.
The data also suggest a link between fast food and severe eczema, a skin disease, in both age groups, as well as an increased risk of rhinoconjunctivitis, which includes nasal congestion, itchy or runny nose, sneezing and red eyes.
Higher levels of saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sodium, carbohydrates and sugar were cited by the researchers as “biologically plausible mechanisms” linking junk food to asthma and allergic diseases.