Fast food blamed for asthma, eczema in kids

January 17, 2013

Children and adolescents who eat 3 or more meals from fast food restaurants each week are at increased risk for asthma and severe eczema, according to latest findings from an ongoing international study.

Children and adolescents who eat 3 or more meals from fast food restaurants each week are at increased risk for asthma and severe eczema, according to latest findings from an ongoing international study.

 

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood is a multicenter, multiphase, cross-sectional study of asthma and allergic diseases in children around the world. Phase 3 of the study (conducted during 2001-2003) examined the association between consumption of certain types of foods and prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, wheezing, and eczema in study participants.

 

Researchers analyzed symptom prevalence data for 319,000 adolescents aged 13 and 14 years from 51 countries and 181,000 children aged 6 and 7 years from 31 countries collected from written questionnaires. Participants and their parents answered questions about types of foods consumed and how many times each week foods were eaten. They also described asthma and allergy symptoms and symptom frequency during the preceding 12 months.

 

Data showed that consuming fast food meals 3 or more times a week was associated with an increased risk of severe asthma in both adolescents (odds ratio [OR], 1.39; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.30-1.49) and children (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.13-1.42). The frequency of fast food meals also was associated with an increased risk of severe rhinoconjunctivitis, severe eczema, and wheezing in all age groups.

 

However, researchers discovered that eating fruit 3 or more times per week produced a protective effect against severe asthma in both adolescents and children.

 

The study shows that a causal association between fast food and the prevalence of asthma and other allergic conditions could have major implications for worldwide public health as global consumption of fast food meals rises.