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Mediterranean Diet Linked to Lower Asthma Risk in Children

A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish can lower a child's risk of asthma and wheeze, while eating burgers three or more times a week is associated with an increased risk, according to findings published in Thorax.

A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish can lower a child’s risk of asthma and wheeze, while eating burgers three or more times a week is associated with an increased risk, according to findings from a large-scale, international study published in Thorax.

A team of researchers based in Germany analyzed data collected from cross-sectional studies in 20 countries between 1995 and 2005 to assess the association between dietary factors, asthma and allergy in children between the ages of 8 and 12. Parents were questioned about their children’s diet and whether they had experienced asthma or wheeze. In addition, 29,579 children were tested for allergies to determine whether diet also influenced the chances of developing allergies.

The investigators found that fruit intake was linked to a low prevalence of wheeze in both affluent and non-affluent countries, and that consumption of fish in affluent countries and of cooked green vegetables in non-affluent countries was associated with a lower prevalence of wheeze.

Overall, more frequent consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish was linked with a lower lifetime prevalence of asthma, whereas high burger consumption was associated with higher lifetime asthma prevalence. However, diet was not found to be associated with allergic sensitization. These findings, say the authors, “provide further evidence that adherence to the ‘Mediterranean diet’ may provide some protection against wheeze and asthma in childhood.”