How is fast food linked to asthma?
Published data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has revealed that over one in three Americans consume fast food every day.
Aside from being a major factor in the obesity epidemic, fast food is also significantly affecting children’s health.
In 2013, an international study that involved a team of researchers from Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.K. published their findings from a Phase III study called the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC).
ISAAC, which was first published in the peer-reviewed journal Epidemiology, highlighted alarming facts about fast food consumption:
- Adolescents, or children aged 13 to 14, who consumed fast food at least thrice a week are at least 40 percent more likely to have severe asthma.
- Children, or kids who were aged six to seven, who consumed fast food at the same rate are almost 30 percent more likely to have severe asthma.
- Both children and adolescents who frequently consume fast food or those whose parents gave them fast food also had a higher chance of developing eczema, a painful condition that causes skin irritation, and rhinitis, an allergic condition linked to symptoms like a runny nose and watery eyes. (Related: Fast-food companies aggressively target kids, says comprehensive study.)
The research team posited that “a causal link between fast food, asthma, and allergies is plausible,” especially since fast foods are full of “trans fatty acids, sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar… and possibly preservatives.” These ingredients are confirmed to have immune-mediated inflammatory effects on the body.
Obesity is a known risk factor for asthma and the various ingredients often found in fast food can significantly increase a child’s risk of becoming obese or overweight.
The ISAAC study references self-reported questionnaire data, and survey-taking is usually regarded as a weaker type of evidence, especially when compared to other more rigorous scientific methods like randomized controlled trials. Questionnaires may ask study participants to remember their dietary habits over the past 12 months, and this kind of information can easily be forgotten or at least fabricated.
Despite these considerations, sample sizes were “impressively large.” The ISAAC study involved data from 319,196 children aged 13 to 14 years old and 181,631 kids aged six to seven from about 100 different countries.
A proper diet can help improve your overall health
The scientists reported that there is a reason why a healthy diet is the best prevention for respiratory conditions like asthma. Consuming fruit regularly is linked to various protective health benefits.
Study data also showed that adolescents and children who consumed fruit three or more times a week were 11 and 14 percent less likely, respectively, to develop severe asthma.
If you want to feed your kids healthier alternatives to fast food, consider the following options:
- Chocolate-chip cookies – Fruit and caramel dip.
- Doughnuts or pastries – Homemade baked goods with less sugar, like bagels or English muffins.
- French fries – “Baked fries” salted lightly and grilled in the oven.
- Fried chicken – Baked or grilled chicken.
- Ice cream – Plain yogurt or fresh fruit smoothies.
- Potato chips – Baked vegetable chips or nuts (for older children).
To learn more about the dangers of fast food and how it can affect your children’s health, visit FastFood.news.