Teens are more likely to have severe allergies, asthma, and eczema if they regularly eat fast food three times per week. According to a recent study, a diet of fast food and takeout may be behind the surge in childhood asthma and allergies in recent years.

The researchers found that young teenagers are 40 percent more likely to have severe asthma if they consume burgers and other fast food more than three times per week. 6- and 7-year-old children had an increased risk of 27 percent. If further research proves that fast food causes allergies, the study could have “major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally,” say the scientists behind the research.

Eating fruit, meanwhile, appeared to protect young people from allergies. Eating three or more servings of fruit per week reduced the severity of symptoms by 14 percent among children and 11 percent among teens.

Details of Study

The research is part of a large collaborative project known as the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). It involved more than 319,000 teens and 181,000 younger children from more than 50 countries. The children and their parents filled out questionnaires about their eating habits and symptoms of asthma and allergies. Fast food was the only type of food found to be associated with asthma and allergies across all age ranges and countries.

The researchers speculate that the link could be “related to higher saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, sodium, carbohydrates and sugar levels of fast food and possibly preservatives.” This research adds to previous studies that suggest a person’s diet may contribute to the risk of developing asthma or allergies. Further research must be done to determine the effects of particular types of foods on the changes of developing symptoms.

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