Fast Foods Linked to Asthma in Children

Frequently eating fast food affects more than a child’s weight, a new study has found. Not only does fast food’s high calories and poor nutrition food result in weight gain, the study suggests that children and teens who eat fast food three or more times a week are likely to have more severe allergic reactions, including asthma.

Researchers wondered if certain foods could increase or decrease the risk of developing asthma, hay fever, and eczema. By constructing a questionnaire given to a very large number of teens and parents of children ages 6 and 7, they studied the impact of the consumption of fast food on these diseases in Phase Three of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. The study found that out of the 15 food types listed in the questionnaire, only fast food showed an association with asthma and eczema in both age groups.

Teens who ate three or more weekly servings had a 39% increased chance of developing severe asthma, while younger children had a 27% higher risk, according to this study of 319,000 teens in 51 countries and 181,000 children ages 6 and 7 in 31 countries. This large sample of children provides a strong association between fast foods and allergic diseases such as asthma, rhinitis, and eczema. While the study does not prove that eating a lot of fast food causes the increase in the conditions, past research has also shown a link between fast food and asthma.

The study in the January 2013 Thorax also found that eating three or more servings of fruit a week reduced risk of developing allergic conditions, and reduced the severity of asthma and eczema symptoms by 11% to 14%. Thus, diets with a regular consumption of fruit and vegetables are likely to protect against asthma and allergic disease.

Click here to read the review of this study in Bloomberg, or here to read the Thorax abstract.