Fast food linked to asthma, allergies

Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013

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Eating at least three servings of junk food a week may increase the severity of asthma, eczema and allergies in children, an international study has found.

Children and adolescents from Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Auckland and the Bay of Plenty were part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) which looked at the diet and health of more than 319,000 13 to 14 year olds from 51 countries and more than 181,000 six to seven year olds in 31 countries.

The results showed a link between an increased consumption of fast food symptoms of asthma and eczema in children and adolescents.

Teens who ate three or more servings of fast food were 39 per cent more likely to suffer from severe asthma, while in children the risk was increased by 27 per cent.

Both groups had a greater risk of eczema and rhinitis, which produces a runny or blocked nose and itchy, watery eyes.

The study also found eating at least three serves of fresh fruit a day was a protector against these health problems.

University of Auckland department of paediatrics professor Innes Asher said the study is more evidence in a series which shows the link between diet and asthma and eczema problems.

"These are very consistent findings in both age groups. These are significant findings on the healthy eating agenda."

The link was first made in a study in the 1990s, which showed a relationship between the number of McDonalds restaurants in a city with rates of asthma.

Ms Asher said there was a 15 percent reduction in asthma in children who ate three or more serves of fruit a day.

"Everything in moderation. People shouldn’t be eating fast food three times a week, there’s a lot of potential for bad things in fast food so we should be clever about it."

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- The Dominion Post

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