Children who eat fast food three times per week are more likely to suffer from atopic conditions like eczema, asthma and rhinitis (hayfever).
A world wide study has shown that consuming at least 3 servings of fast food each week is associated with a 39% increase for severe asthma and a 70% increase for severe eczema in teens. The percentages were slightly less for children.
Philippa Ellwood, DDN, DPH, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues reported their findings in Thorax after a year long study of weekly surveys of children from all over the world.
Over 319,000 thirteen to fourteen year olds from 51 countries and over 181,000 six to seven year olds from 31 countries were involved in the study. The children and teenagers and their parents were asked questions regarding symptoms of eczema, asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis (runny or blocked nose along with itchy, watery eyes). The severity and frequency of the symptoms were assessed at the end of the year along with interruption to patterns of daily living and sleep.
Whilst consuming fast foods appears to increase the symptoms of eczema, asthma and rhinitis the study also showed that consuming fruit 3 or more times per week was associated with a reduction in the severity of symptoms of 11% among teens and 14% among children.
Fast Foods Lower Immunity
Ellwood and her colleagues pointed out that there were reasonable explanations for the results. The high level of saturated and trans fats in fast food is thought to lower immunity, while the antioxidants and vitamins in fruits reverse the effects.
The scientists stressed that whilst the findings are interesting they are not conclusive as they did not demonstrate a cause and effect relationship. More research is necessary.
The study authors, Professor Innes Asher, from the University of Auckland, and Professor Hywel Williams, from the University of Nottingham, concluded:
“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.”
Although a new study the concept is far from new. It has long been known that diet plays a major part in eczema. And what a simple way of helping to control your child’s eczema symptoms – swap a Big mac for an apple!