Mediterranean Diet May Lower Childhood Asthma Risk

International study also finds increased asthma risk with high consumption of hamburgers
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Diet appears to be associated with asthma and wheeze in children, and eating a "Mediterranean diet" rich in fruit, vegetables and fish seems to reduce a child's risk of developing asthma and wheeze, according to an international study published in the June issue of Thorax.

Gabriele Nagel, M.D., of Ulm University in Germany, and colleagues analyzed data collected between 1995 and 2005 on 50,004 children, aged 8 to 12 years, from 20 affluent and non-affluent countries around the world. Parents completed questionnaires on their children's diet, and indicated whether they had ever been diagnosed with asthma or had wheeze. Also, 29,579 of the children had skin prick tests for allergic reactions, to determine if diet affected the development of allergic sensitivities.

Overall, the researchers found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower prevalence of current wheeze and ever having asthma. A diet high in fruit was associated with a lower prevalence of current wheeze in both affluent and non-affluent countries (adjusted odds ratios [aORs], 0.86 and 0.71, respectively), while consumption of fish in affluent countries and of cooked green vegetables in non-affluent countries were both associated with a lower prevalence of current wheeze (aORs, 0.85 and 0.78, respectively). In contrast, high consumption of hamburgers was associated with higher lifetime occurrence of asthma. No food was associated with allergic sensitization.

"Diet is associated with wheeze and asthma but not with allergic sensitization in children. These results provide further evidence that adherence to the 'Mediterranean diet' may provide some protection against wheeze and asthma in childhood," the authors write.

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