Children who eat three or more burgers a week 'more likely to develop asthma'
Published 03/06/2010 | 10:10
Children who eat three or more burgers a week are more likely to develop asthma than other youngsters, a new study has found.
But a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, can lower the risk.
Researchers looked at data from 50,000 children aged between eight and 12.
Parents were asked about their children's usual diet and whether they had ever been diagnosed with asthma or if they had suffered from wheezing.
Almost 30,000 children were also tested for allergies.
The study found that diet did not increase the risk of allergies to grass and tree pollen, but did have an effect on developing asthma and wheeze.
Children who ate three or more burgers a week were 42pc more likely to develop asthma than those who had a healthier diet.
However, a diet that was generally high in meat did not increase the risk.
The researchers, from Germany, Spain and London, believe that eating lots of burgers could be a signal that a child has a generally unhealthy lifestyle and may suffer from other problems that make developing asthma more likely.
Writing in the journal Thorax, the research team said: "Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and other biologically active factors which may contribute to the favourable effect of fruit consumption in asthma.
"In particular, foods rich in vitamin C have been reported to relate to better lung function and fewer asthma symptoms."
The authors concluded: "In summary, our observations support previous reports that the adherence to a Mediterranean diet may provide protection against wheeze and asthma in childhood.
"As consumption of fish, fruit and vegetables is widely recommended for prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, our findings suggest that these public health initiatives are unlikely to be harmful in relation to childhood asthma symptoms and may be beneficial in reducing the prevalence of wheezing among children in diverse settings around the world."
Dr Elaine Vickers, from Asthma UK, said: ‘This large study has probed deeper into the relationship between asthma and diet.
"However, the authors acknowledge a number of limitations of this study which should make us cautious about interpreting the results, for example the fact that no adjustment was made in the analysis for total calorie intake, which is usual in dietary studies of this kind, or for body mass index, which can have a significant bearing on asthma symptoms."