Could Fast Food Increase Allergy Related Conditions?

cheeseburgerWe have heard, many times, about a connection between fast food and obesity. Could it also link to childhood asthma and eczema? That is what a group of researchers have determined after taking a close look at global disease and dietary patterns.

I don’t think that there are any parents out there who truly believe that fast food is a healthy, wonderful, choice for dinner every single night. (Or, at least, there shouldn’t be). We have all heard it said that too much fast food can cause several different types of health problems, in both adults and children. One of the most commonly pointed at conditions is obesity.

But, could fast food be a link to symptoms of childhood asthma and eczema as well? It is something that a group of researchers has found. They looked at data from more than 500,000 children who lived in more than 50 countries. Their conclusion is that poor diet (such as a diet consisting of a lot of fast food) may be to blame for rising levels of allergy related conditions.

Kids and teens who ate fast food risked severe asthma, eczema, and itchy, watery, eyes. All of these are allergy related symptoms. According to the researchers:

In the study, children in their early teens who ate three or more weekly servings of fast food had a 39% increased risk of severe asthma.

Six- and seven-year-olds had a 27% increased risk.

It should give parents some “food for thought”. Are your children eating a lot of fast food? Do they have asthma, or eczema, or itchy eyes and noses? Stop feeding them fast food for a while, and see what happens.

The lack of fast food isn’t going to “cure” allergies. However, it could, potentially, lower the frequency and duration of symptoms. Obviously, your child will not be harmed by having to eat healthier meals than what a fast food place can provide. He or she might end up having a few more “good days”.

Of course, there are other things that can cause asthma attacks in children (and adults). This includes dust and smoke. The researchers are not saying that fast food is the only thing that causes an allergy or an allergic reaction.

Researchers also noted that eating 3 or more portions of fruit a week cut down the risk of severe asthma, eczema, and rhinoconjunctivitis by somewhere between 11% and 14%. Professor Innes Asher, from the University of Aukland in New Zealand, and Professor Hywel Williams, from the University of Nottingham in the UK, are two of the authors of the study. They 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.

Image by Rusty Clark on Flickr