Fast food effects

Fast food may impact more than a person’s waistline.

A new study has linked a fast food diet to the severity of asthma, eczema and rhinitis among children.

Researchers found that children who eat three or more servings of fast food a week have more severe symptoms of the three conditions.

The international study was published recently in the respiratory journal “Thorax.” The authors base their findings on data from more than 319,000 13- to 14-year-olds in 51 countries and 181,000 6- to 7-year-olds in 31 countries.

The teens and the children’s parents were quizzed on whether they had symptoms of asthma (wheezing), rhinoconjunctivitis (produces a runny or blocked nose and itchy, watery eyes) and eczema. The researchers also looked at the children’s weekly diets.

Fast food was the only food type to show associations with symptoms across both age groups.

Three or more weekly servings of fast food were linked to a 39 percent increased risk of severe asthma among teens and a 27 percent increased risk among children, as well as to the severity of rhinitis and eczema.

Fruit, on the other hand, seemed to be protective. Eating three or more weekly portions was linked to a reduction in symptom severity.

“The authors suggest that there are plausible explanations for the findings: fast food contains high levels of saturated and trans fatty acids, which are known to affect immunity, while fruit is rich in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds,” according to a news release on the study.

The authors caution, however, that their results do not prove cause and effect, but they do warrant further investigation.

“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,” the authors said in the news release.

What do you think about the findings?

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