Fast Food Appears to Cause Asthma in Children

While many people are accused of “inhaling” their food—particularly the junky-fast kind, new research says that may become more difficult, especially for children who appear to be developing asthma as a result of eating fast food.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and published in the recent issue of the respiratory medicine journal, Thorax looked at data from more than 500,000 children in more than 50 countries. And the conclusion was that fast food meals—as few as three per week—may lead to asthma and eczema. Fast foods are typically high in saturated trans fats, which are known for decreasing the body’s immunity. And many fast foods also lack key nutrients including vitamins and minerals.

Children in their early teenage years were 39 percent more likely to be at risk for severe asthma if they ate three meals per week than those who didn’t. Younger children ages 6 to 7 were at a slightly lower risk: 27 percent. And the researchers found that the more fresh fruits that were consumed—at least three servings per week—decreased the risk by as much as 14 percent. The study authors credit the vitamins and antioxidants in fresh fruit and vegetables for having beneficial effects on asthma.

The study authors, Professor Innes Asher, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Professor Hywel Williams, from the University of Nottingham in the UK, said: “If the associations between fast foods and the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema is causal, then the findings have major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally.”

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