A study of more than 400,000 children in over 50 countries shows that children who consume the most fast food are 40 percent more likely to develop asthma than children whose diets contain at least three servings of fruit per week, according to www.thorax.bmj.com.
Researchers explored the impact of diet on childhood asthma and allergies in Phase Three of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood. The study, which was first published online Jan.14, 2013, involved written questionnaires completed by 13- and 14-year olds and a questionnaire completed by the caregivers of 6-and7-year-old children. The questionnaires explored the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis (runny nose and itchy eyes), and eczema as affected by types of foods eaten over a 12 month period.
Based on questionnaire answers, similar patterns of symptoms were found in both age groups. The patterns were consistent across gender and economic categories. These patterns show a definite correlation between fast food consumption three times per week and increased incidence of severe asthma and eczema symptoms. The study also shows that fruit consumption of at least three servings per week has a protective effect against developing childhood asthma. Those who ate the most fruit lowered their risk by about 14 percent.
The findings of this study may have a major impact on public health, considering the sharp rise in childhood asthma and allergy cases, and the rising rates of fast food consumption in all age groups. Pediatricians and nutritionists will have a new tool to use in their quest to promote healthier diets for children.