03 June 2010

Burger diet boosts kids asthma risk

Eating three or more burgers a week may boost a child's risk of asthma and wheeze - at least in developed nations - reveals a large international study.


Eating three or more burgers a week may boost a child's risk of asthma and wheeze - at least in developed nations - reveals a large international study, published in Thorax.

Conversely, a Mediterranean diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, and fish seems to stave off the risk, the research shows.

The research team base their findings on data collected between 1995 and 2005 on 50,000 children between the ages of eight and 12 from 20 rich and poor countries around the world.

Their parents were asked about their children's normal diet and whether they had ever been diagnosed with asthma and/or have had wheeze. Just under 30,000 of the children were tested for allergic reactions, to see if diet also influenced their chances of developing allergies.

Mediterranean diet best

Diet did not seem to be associated with becoming sensitised to common allergens, such as grass and tree pollen. But it did seem to influence the prevalence of asthma and wheeze.

High fruit intake was associated with a low rate of wheeze among children from rich and poor countries.

Similarly, a diet high in fish protected children in rich countries, while a diet rich in and cooked green vegetables protected children against wheeze in poor countries.

Overall, a Mediterranean diet, high in fruit, vegetables, and fish was associated with a lower lifetime prevalence of asthma and wheeze.

But eating three or more burgers a week was associated with a higher lifetime prevalence of asthma and wheeze, particularly among children with no allergies in rich countries. A heavy meat diet, however, had no bearing on the prevalence of asthma or wheeze.

The authors say that fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidant vitamins and biologically active agents, while the omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish have anti-inflammatory properties, so there are biologically plausible links for the findings.

Burger consumption could be a proxy for other lifestyle factors, they add, particularly as the increased asthma risk associated with it was not found in poor countries. - (EurekAlert, June 2010)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Asthma Expert

Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules