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Originally published October 8 2010

Eating hamburgers linked to asthma

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Children who eat three or more hamburgers a week may be more likely to develop asthma than children who eat fewer burgers, according to a study published in the journal Thorax.

The researchers studied more than 50,000 children in 20 countries between 1995 and 2005. Parents of participants were asked about their children's diet and medical history, including incidence of wheezing or diagnosis with asthma. The researchers found that among children living in richer countries, eating three or more burgers per week was significantly associated with a higher risk of asthma. This effect was not seen in less wealthy countries.

Among children in all countries, a higher intake of fruits and vegetables was significantly associated with a lower asthma risk. This effect was stronger in less affluent countries and weaker in richer countries.

Because the study examined only correlations, the researchers could not prove that burgers were the cause of asthma, only that they were connected to it. Thus it is possible that the true cause of asthma was another condition or lifestyle that is also associated with hamburger intake. For example, the researchers did not correct for the effects of obesity, which is known to influence asthma symptoms.

Alternately, the high fat content or some other component of hamburgers might directly influence the development of asthma. Likewise, the high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables might lower the risk of the disease.

The research was consistent with earlier studies, which have shown that a Mediterranean diet -- high in fruits, nuts, vegetables and olive oil; moderate in dairy, fish and poultry; and low in red meat and processed foods -- may lower asthma risk.

"Previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help to reduce a child's risk of developing asthma symptoms," said Elaine Vickers of Asthma UK. "Our advice to parents is therefore to ensure that children eat a healthy, balanced diet and also get plenty of exercise."

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