Large study links fast food to asthma, eczema

By Renee Tessman and NBC News, | Posted - Jan 21st, 2013 @ 12:23pm

WYOMING, Minn. — Obesity isn't the only potential toll that dinner from the drive-through may have on a person's health.

According to a new study, kids who eat lots of fast food have an increased risk of the most common chronic illness in children.

It's the kind of food we grab because it's quick and frankly, kids ask for it.

The new study of more than 500,000 kids in more than 50 countries links fast food to severe asthma, hay fever and eczema.

"Asthma, eczema and hay fever are all results of the body's immune system over reacting to things it should ignore," said Dr. John Sweet, an allergist and immunologist with Fairview Lakes Medical Center.

Published in the journal Thorax, the study said kids who eat fast food three times or more a week had approximately 30 percent increased risk in disease severity.


"It is an enormous survey," Sweet said. "It is quite impressive and consistent with other surveys that have been done in the past several years."

He said it was interesting that the same effects are showing up in different countries.

Researchers found a reduction in severity for kids who ate fruit at least three times a week. Sweet says that's because fruit and vegetables are full of anti-oxidants.

"It's believed a decreased consumption of these anti-oxidants can affect the airway in some way, though it's not clearly understood at this time," Sweet said.

And he says when kids fill up with fast food, they don't eat as much of the fruit and veggies which could be making them feel better.

As for whether fast food could be causing these diseases, the number of children with asthma has been on the rise over the past three decades, but experts say more study needs to be done to see if fast food is a contributing factor.

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