Nutrition Matters When It Comes to Asthma Risk

NOVEMBER 13, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
pediatrics, pulmonology, asthma, lungs, diet, nutrition, fruits, vegetables, food

Not having access to fruits and vegetables puts children at higher risk for asthma, according to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, CA.

The definition of a “food desert” is not as straightforward as it may first appear to be. Various measures come into play, such as access, cost, and availability. But generally, it’s described as an urban area where there is a lack of good-quality fresh food at an affordable price. Millions of people across the nation live in these areas, confirms the United States Department of Agriculture. Now researchers examined how that lack of nutrition hurts children’s asthma risks.

Lead author, Devon Preston, MD, an allergist and ACAAI member, and colleagues evaluated medical charts from 2,043 children ages 6 to 18. Of these, 57% lived at least a half mile from a food story and 10% lived at least one mile away.

After taking factors into account, like obesity, allergic rhinitis, and others that influence asthma, Preston said, “We found that 21% of the children who lived in a food desert had asthma, compared to 17% rate for the children who didn’t live in a food desert.” The statement indicated that the food desert environment causes a 53% greater risk of developing the lung disease.

It can be difficult to encourage a child to eat healthy foods as it is, but when it’s literally not in reach, it’s pretty much impossible. Past research has suggested that diets filled with particular vitamins reduced the risk of asthma. While more evidence is needed on that, it makes sense since nutrition plays a crucial role in many conditions.

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