An international collaboration of scientists has found that young teenagers in particular are nearly 40% more likely to have severe asthma if they eat burgers and other types of fast food more than three times a week. Children aged six to seven had an increased risk of 27%. Children eating fast food were also more likely to get severe eczema and rhinitis – a condition where the nose blocks or runs and the eyes are itchy and water.
The scientists, from New Zealand, Spain, Australia and Germany as well as Nottingham in the UK, say their study could have "major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally" if the link they have found turns out not to be coincidence but causal.
The good news was that eating fruit appeared to protect young peoplefrom asthma and allergies. Eating three or more portions a week reduced the severity of the symptoms by 11% among teenagers and 14% among younger children.
The research, published in the journal Thorax, part of the BMJ group, came out of a large collaborative project called the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), which involves nearly 2 million children in more than 100 countries, making it the biggest of its kind.