FoodFacts.com has always been in the “don’t eat fast food” camp. If you look at any of the fast food products detailed on our site, you’ll see that the ingredient lists are horrendous; the products are packed with fat and sodium. Generally speaking, there is just no good reason to eat these products. Except if you’re a child being enticed by the “cool” element that seems to be linked to fast foods for kids.
In a new international study shows that kids who eat fast food three or more times a week are more likely to have severe allergic asthma, hay fever and eczema. In fact, the results have researchers thinking that fast food may be playing a role in the increase in these conditions.
More than 300,000 13 and 14 year olds from over 50 countries and over 180,000 6 and 7 year olds from over 30 countries participated in the study. These participants were all part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children. This is the largest study of its kind.
The parents of the younger children and the teenagers themselves were asked questions about their symptoms of asthma, eczema and hay fever as well as their diet weekly. The severity and frequency of their symptoms were analyzed. In addition to the questions regarding their health symptoms, researchers noted their consumption of specific foods that were associated with their influence (good or bad) on health. These foods included: vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, bread, butter, margarine, rice, pasta, nuts, milk, eggs and fast food or burgers. The questions included the frequency of their consumption of those food categories – never, occasionally, once or twice a week or three or more times each week.
After the researchers applied controls that could affect the result, it was found that the ONLY type of food that had the same links between both age groups was fast food. The researchers felt that this link added plausibility to the idea that fast food was the cause.
All of the teenagers involved in the study who consumed fast food also displayed severe symptoms of all three conditions. It didn’t matter if they were male or female or what country they lived in.
Teens consuming three or more servings of fast food every week showed a 39% increased risk of severe asthma. Younger children displayed a 27% increase for hay fever and eczema.
In contrast, teens consuming fruit three times or more every week showed an 11% reduction in symptoms and the reduction of symptoms in younger kids was 14%.
While the researchers noted that the study does not prove a cause and effect relationship between fast food and these conditions, they stressed that the results do create the need for further research.
FoodFacts.com is aware of the growing asthma problem for children around the world. We are hopeful that the analysis conducted within this international study will spur further research into the possible link between fast food and a condition affecting millions of children which can often be debilitating and even deadly.