Three or more fast food meals per week have been linked to allergic reactions including asthma symptoms, hay fever (seasonal allergies) and eczema.
While these findings are inconclusive, it is important to note that the researchers studied nearly 500,000 children ages 6-14 years old from over 80 different countries to find out more about childhood allergies. Another important point is that these boys and girls come from diverse socioeconomic and family backgrounds.
Such a large study makes the argument that fast food is contributing to an increase in global childhood allergies even more convincing.
Researchers do admit that fast food alone may not be the cause or main source of severity in childhood asthma, eczema, and allergies. However, they did discover that children have less severe allergic reactions and symptoms when they eat more fresh fruit every week.
Fast food meals are loaded with salt, saturated fats, and “empty calories” found in highly processed white flour, fried foods and inexpensive meat products. Adding a calorie dense, high sugar/high fructose corn syrup soda into the mix really helps kids “fill up” on unhealthy foods while their growing bodies aren’t getting the vitamins and nutrients they really need.
There is a very long list of health reasons why eating fast food as part of your regular diet is bad for you – from obesity and diabetes to heart disease. This new link to childhood allergies should help parents think twice about running through the drive-through several times a week instead of preparing healthier meals at home for our kids.
The study found that teenagers who ate three or more fast food meals each week had almost 40% higher rates of severe asthma. Younger children with the same fast food dietary habit showed a nearly 30% increased risk of eczema, hay fever and severe asthma.
Junk food, sodas and fast food meals are quickly becoming part of the average child’s regular diet – with long term health consequences. No matter how fast and inexpensive this kind of “food” is, the risks outweigh the convenience. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber and nutrient rich proteins that make up real food are much better choices for everyone to be eating.
Modeling healthy eating habits and giving our kids wholesome, nutritious options instead of fast food a few times a week can help lower their risk for allergies, eczema and asthma – and encourage them to choose healthy foods as they grow up.
The little extra time it takes to prepare simple homemade meals for our kids will help improve their long term health, and may actually reduce the symptoms and severity of their allergies and other health problems.
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