Teenagers and children who eat three or more fast foods (meals) a week are more prone to allergy-related illnesses, according to researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The findings were published Jan. 14 in the journal Thorax.
The teenagers and children who consumed burgers, fries and pizza three or more times a week had more severe symptoms of wheezing, watery eyes, running nose and itchy skin. These symptoms are associated with rhinoconjunctivitis (hay fever), asthma and eczema.
Conversely, the children who also ate three or more servings of fruit a week displayed lowered allergy-related symptoms. It appeared the fruit had a counteractive, beneficial quality.
This is the first study to focus on allergy-related conditions associated with fast foods.
Fast foods are known risk factors for obesity and type II diabetes. The convenience of grabbing a quick meal appears to be the preferred method as opposed to a nutritious home-cooked meal, fruits and vegetables. Parents and teenagers may be too busy to choose a healthier diet.
Parents can help by role-modeling positive behaviors in the home environment with healthier food choices. A recent study showed caregivers/parents should not practice "do as I say, not as I do" with their children. It found parents living a healthy lifestyle had more of a positive influence on the children than just trying to talk to them. If parents eat healthier and show a positive concern for their own food choices, it may model the behaviors in their children and teenagers.
The research found it was only the fast foods that caused the chronic allergy-related symptoms in teenagers and children, not the fruits and vegetables.
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