Teenagers and young children who eat fast food could be increasing their risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal’s respiratory journal Thorax.
“We found clear associations between certain foods and severe asthma, hay fever (or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis) and eczema in the largest study of allergies in children (aged 6-7 years) and adolescents (13-14 years) to date,” said study author Hywel Williams of the Centre for Evidence Based Dermatology, Queen’s Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK. According to Williams, the associations between allergic diseases and fast food were “only really convincing for severe disease.”
Researchers saw a protective effect against severe asthma for those who ate fruit at least three times a week. Those consuming fast food three or more times a week had about a 30% increased risk of severe asthma, hay fever and eczema, a chronic skin condition that causes scaly, itchy rashes. The results were consistent in both age groups. Affluence and gender did not change or affect the outcome.
Either way, Williams said, there is a take-home message for parents. He says you don’t have to stop eating fast food entires, ” but to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and maybe less fast food – one or two times per week rather than three or more.