Does Fast Food Cause Asthma in Kids?

A recent study that landed on our desks caught us by surprise. Sure, we already knew that most fast food is bad for us; high in fat and low in nutrients. But causing asthma? According to the study’s research team, there may be a link.

Though the relationship between fast food and asthma may not be definite, it doesn’t mean we should shrug off the stats. The fact is, the incidence of asthma is rising. For children in Canada aged 11 and younger, 13% were diagnosed with asthma, according to Statistics Canada. But are the fast food companies to blame?

The study, published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy, involved kids born in Manitoba in 1995. The team looked at 246 children, aged eight to 10, diagnosed with asthma, and 477 children without asthma. Questionnaires asked, “how often has your child eaten burgers or fast food in the last week and when did your child first have any formula/cow’s milk?”

Researchers found that children who ate fast foods more than once or twice a week were almost twice as likely to have asthma. They also discovered that children who were breastfed exclusively for more than three months had a lower risk of asthma.

We don’t think this is that last word you’ll hear about the fast food/asthma link. In the meantime, consider this: A Cheeseburger Happy Meal with chocolate milk has 670 calories and 25 grams of fat. The burger alone has over 750 mg of sodium. Bearing in mind that the recommended daily sodium intake for kids 8 years and younger is 1200 mg, one Happy Meal seasons you up with sodium to the tune of 1150 mg. Researchers think that high sodium can increase the risk for wheezing, more “twitchy” airways and hyper-reactive lungs. Fast foods are also high in fat, and low in antioxidants, which might also play a role in the development of asthma. So even if you only let little ones indulge in fast food once in a while, be sure to keep nutritional information in mind.

In light of this possible link, will you think twice about pulling into the drive thru with your kids?

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