(NaturalNews) Scientists have discovered yet another serious health condition associated with fast food consumption, and it might not be one you would expect. According to a new study published in the journal Thorax, children who eat fast food three or more times per week are significantly more likely than other children to develop severe asthma, allergies, and skin problems.
Using data compiled as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), which included nearly two million children, researchers from Auckland University in New Zealand sent questionnaires to more than 500,000 children between the ages of six and seven, and between 13 and 14, asking them about their eating habits. They then compared this data to allergy and asthma rates to see if there was any connection.
What the team discovered was that young children who consumed at least three fast food meals a week were 27 percent more likely to develop severe asthma, and young teenagers 40 percent more likely than other children who ate fewer or no fast food meals a week. Similarly, fast food children were significantly more likely to develop severe eczema and rhinitis compared to other children.
Fresh, whole foods counteract damage caused by fast food
At the same time, eating three or more servings of fruits and vegetables a week was found to reduce symptoms of these conditions among all age groups. According to the data, teenagers who ate three or more servings of fruits and vegetables saw an 11 percent symptom reduction, while young children saw a 14 percent reduction.
"Fast food may be contributing to increasing asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema," wrote the authors in their study. "Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is likely to protect against these diseases."
It is believed that the high content of refined salts and sugars, trans fatty acids, processed carbohydrates, chemical preservatives, and various other additives in fast food are the primary triggers of both asthma and allergies in children. However, further research is needed to better determine how the two are connected.
"This research adds to previous studies that suggest a person's diet can contribute to their risk for developing asthma, and indicates the benefit of further research to determine the effects that particular food groups can have on the chances of developing asthma or the impact it may have on severity," said Malayka Rahman from Asthma U.K. about the study.
"Evidence suggests that the vitamins and antioxidants found in fresh fruit and vegetables have a beneficial effect on asthma, therefore Asthma U.K. advises people with asthma to eat a healthy, balanced diet including five portions of fruit or vegetables every days, fish more than twice a week, and pulses (legumes) more than once a week."