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Scientists discover a connection
between fast food and diseases

If children and young people eat fast food several times per week, they suffer more frequently from severe asthma, hay fever and eczema. This is the result of an international study lead by a research team from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

The scientists evaluated the data of roughly 180,000 children aged six to seven and 320,000 young people aged 13 to 14. The teenagers, and their parents were asked to provide information about the frequency of certain symptoms for diseases such as asthma, hay fever and eczema over the past twelve months. For asthma, this included heavy breathing and even wheezing, for hay fever (allergic rhinoconjunctivitis) a running or blocked nose as well as watering and itching eyes. For eczema it included itching rashes. They were asked how much impact these illnesses had on their daily lives and their sleeping habits. In addition, the participants were questioned about their weekly eating habits.

Fatty acids damage the immune system

If young people and children ate fast food more than three times per week, the risk of severe asthma rose by 39 percent and 27 percent respectively. The likelihood of itching rashes and severe hay fever increased - regardless of gender and the financial situation of the participants. Eating fruit at least three times per week, on the other hand, had a positive effect: the severe asthma symptoms were reduced by 11 percent for teenagers and 14 percent for children. A high consumption of vegetables also had a positive preventative effect, at least for children.


For young people, the connection between high fast food intake and the appearance of the diseases was more pronounced than for children. Probably this has to do with the fact that teenagers are freer and more independent in their choice of food. The negative effects led the scientists to burgers, fries & co. and the saturated and trans-fatty acids they contain which affect the immune system. Fruit, on the other hand, is rich in antioxidants and other valuable substances. Further research is necessary to validate the results.

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de