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Fast food increases severe asthma, allergy risk, study finds

In Canada, where fast food is a $27 billion a year industry, it’s not surprising that a quarter of Canadians suffer from hay fever and nearly one fifth of the population is affected by eczema. 

A fast food diet raises the risk of allergies, eczema and asthma in children, a global study found.

This is no small fry study. Half a million children, ages 13 to 14 and six to seven, from 80 countries worldwide participated in this study, which appeared in the journal Thorax.

Eating fast food three or more times a week increased severe asthma risk by 39 per cent in teens and 27 per cent in young children. Researchers suggest the numbers are lower for young children because they have fewer choices. Fast food consumption also significantly increased the risk of eczema and rhinitis (hay fever).

High levels of saturated fat are presumed to be the culprits affecting the immune system, researchers conclude. Consuming fruit regularly was found to lower the risk of severe asthma.

A study that appeared in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy also found that a fast food diet cancelled out the benefits of breastfeeding in preventing asthma.

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