Diet May Be to Blame for Rise in Asthma Prevalence

Some association seen, but more research needed; salty snacks tied to asthma in children

FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of asthma is increasing rapidly, and diet has emerged in the last 15 years as a possible culprit. Researchers explore the relationship between diet and asthma in two articles published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Keith Allan and Graham Devereux, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, reviewed dietary hypotheses that may explain the increasing prevalence of asthma, namely changes in antioxidant intake, the increased ratio of n-6 to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption, and vitamin D deficiency. They concluded that there is not substantial clinical evidence to support dietary supplementation to reduce the risk of developing asthma, but note that ongoing studies might change this conclusion. They also note that a small number of studies suggested that dietary modification during pregnancy might reduce the incidence of childhood asthma.

Fotini Arvaniti, R.D., of the Agricultural University of Athens in Greece, and colleagues evaluated questionnaires filled out by 700 10- to 12-year-old children to evaluate the association between salty-snack consumption and television/video game viewing with asthma. They found salty-snack consumption (intake more than three times weekly versus rare/never) to be associated with a 4.9-fold greater likelihood for asthma symptoms, and this association was stronger in children who spent two or more hours a day watching television or playing video games.

"Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, such as salty-snack eating and television/video-game viewing were strongly associated with the presence of asthma symptoms. Future interventions and public health messages should be focused on changing these behaviors from the early stages of life," Arvaniti and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Allan/Devereux
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Abstract - Arvaniti
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