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Childhood asthma may be improved with dietary choices

Deborah Shipley's picture
Healthy Diet helps childhood asthma

Two new studies published in the February 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association look at the relationship between childhood asthma and dietary choices.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. The incidence of asthma is on the rise and the disease typically begins in childhood. There is an estimated 300 million people worldwide with asthma. Researchers are finding that this rapid increase in cases of asthma can be attributed to the environmental and lifestyle challenges being faced in the world today. Over the last 15 years, dietary choices have come into the spotlight as a possible contributor to this increase in the diagnosis of asthma.

One study explored the possibility of the use of dietary intervention integrated with conventional medical treatment. According to Graham Devereux, MD, Ph, the data is not yet strong enough to suggest certain dietary recommendation. However, more studies may reveal data that would be in support of dietary programs focusing on the intake of certain nutrients that would, in turn, possibly reduce the prevalence of asthma in children.

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Another study in the same issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, focused on 700 children, 10-12 years old, living in Greece. This particular study found that when these children consumed salty snacks more than 3 times per week, they were at a 4.8 times higher risk of having asthma symptoms. They also looked at the additional factor of TV watching or playing video games for more than 2 hours per day, and discovered that the asthma symptom association was even stronger for those with sedentary TV and gaming habits.

The lead team investigators in this study concluded that,

"Since the prevalence of asthma is quite high in industrialized populations, and has continued to increase during the past years, future interventions and public health messages should be focused on changing these behaviors from the early stages of life, by informing parents, guardians, teachers and any other person that could teach children a healthier lifestyle."

Although more research is needed, the future of integrating dietary choices with conventional medical asthma treatments could prove to be a low-cost and promising option.