Monday, June 7, 2010

Burgers may feed kids' Asthma risk: study

Updated on : Monday, June 07, 2010

SYDNEY: Children who eat three or more hamburgers a week may raise their odds for asthma, a new study suggests.

However, eating the so-called "Mediterranean diet" rich in fruits, vegetables and fish could cut kids' respiratory risk, the researchers say.

"Our results support previous reports that the adherence to a Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables and fish and a low intake of meat, burger and fizzy drinks, may provide partial protection against asthma in childhood," said lead researcher Dr. Gabriele Nagel, from the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University in Germany.

For the study, Nagel's team collected data on about 50,000 children from 20 rich and poor countries. Parents were asked about their children's typical diet and whether they had asthma or not. In addition, almost 30,000 of the children were tested for allergies.

While diet did not appear to influence allergies, it was associated with the risk of asthma and wheeze, the researchers found.

Children in both rich and poorer countries who ate a lot of fruit had lower rates of wheeze.

Eating lots of fish seemed to protect children in rich countries, and a diet high in cooked green vegetables protected children in less developed countries from wheeze, Nagel's group found.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidant vitamins and biologically active agents, and the omega 3 fatty acids prevalent in fish have anti-inflammatory properties, which might explain these findings, the researchers said.

On the other hand, children who ate a lot of burgers had a higher lifetime prevalence of asthma and wheeze, the researchers found. The finding was especially true for allergy-free children from more affluent countries.

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