Fast Food Linked with Asthma, Allergies

While this finding is certainly not news to CFL clients and other consumers who must avoid certain food additives that are commonplace in fast food, it will be an important wake-up call for sufferers of asthma and a host of allergic conditions who had not previously made the connection between food additives and their adverse health reactions.

If you are one of the people suffering with asthma and/or allergic conditions whose symptoms are triggered or made worse by certain additives including food chemicals, the solution is to minimize or better yet avoid highly processed foods such as those found at fast food restaurants, traditional restaurants, as well as on grocery store shelves.  Instead, prepare your own snacks and meals using fresh, whole ingredients, organic where possible.  And always read the ingredients labels carefully on minimally processed foods.

NOTE: The present review of scientific studies looked only at consumption of fast food items in general and did not get into which specific food additives were present. For important information on which food additives present in fast food and other highly processed food items have been linked in scientific studies and clinical trials to asthma and allergic reactions (as well as other serious health conditions), start here by perusing our Food Additives to Avoid Listing, and be sure to get our book.


Link between consumption of fast food and asthma, other allergic diseases

A new Respirology review and analysis of published studies reveals a link between fast food consumption and an increased likelihood of having asthma, wheeze, and several other allergic diseases such as pollen fever, eczema, and rhino-conjunctivitis.

Study Abstract

The associations between the consumption of fast foods and asthma or allergic diseases have not been clarified. The aim of this study was to determine whether fast foods consumption is associated with asthma or allergic diseases. Databases were searched up to February 2018. Studies investigating the associations between fast foods consumption and asthma or allergic diseases were considered eligible. Included studies were assessed for quality using standardized critical appraisal checklists. The quality scores were 5.33 ± 1.16 in case–control studies and 5.69 ± 1.55 in cross‐sectional studies. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) were pooled. Sixteen studies (13 cross‐sectional and 3 case–control studies) were included. The consumption of fast foods was significantly related to current asthma (aOR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.17–2.13 for case–control study and aOR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.10–2.26 for cross‐sectional studies), severe asthma (aOR: 1.34; 95% CI: 1.23–1.46), asthma ever (aOR: 1.36; 95% CI: 1.06–1.75), current wheeze (aOR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.16–1.27), wheeze ever (aOR: 1.65; 95% CI: 1.07–2.52), physician‐diagnosed allergic rhinitis (odds ratio: 1.43; 95% CI: 1.05–1.95), severe eczema (aOR: 1.51; 95% CI: 1.16–1.96) and severe rhino‐conjunctivitis (aOR: 1.54; 95% CI: 1.18–2.00). The consumption of hamburgers was associated with current asthma (aOR: 1.59; 95% CI: 1.13–2.25), severe asthma (aOR: 1.34; 95% CI: 1.23–1.46), asthma ever (aOR: 1.47; 95% CI: 1.13–1.92), severe eczema (aOR: 1.51; 95% CI: 1.16–1.96), severe rhino‐conjunctivitis (aOR: 1.54; 95% CI: 1.18–2.00) and rhino‐conjunctivitis (aOR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.15–1.27). The consumption of fast foods, especially hamburgers, ≥3 times/week, was more likely to be associated with severe asthma and current wheeze compared with the consumption of 1–2 times/week (both P < 0.001). In conclusion, the consumption of fast foods, particularly hamburgers, correlates to asthma in a dose–response pattern, which needs to be further validated in longitudinal and interventional studies.


Journal Reference:  Cheng S. Wang, Ji Wang, Xin Zhang, Li Zhang, Hong P. Zhang, Lei Wang, Lisa G. Wood, Gang Wang. Is the consumption of fast foods associated with asthma or other allergic diseases? Respirology, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/resp.13339