27/12/2010 13:11 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Burgers Could Increase Risk Of Asthma In Children

A new study has discovered there could be a link between the number of fast food burgers eaten by children and the risk of them developing asthma.

The International Study on Allergies and Asthma in Childhood found that eating three or more fast food burgers a week meant there was a higher chance children would have asthma.

A Mediterranean diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fish reduced the risk of developing the disease.

The study looked at data from 50,000 children from 20 countries over 10 years.

Co-author Dr Gabriele Nagel, from the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University in Germany, says it may not be the burgers themselves which cause asthma, but this kind of diet is an indicator for other health issues.

"We think that burger consumption might be a proxy for other unhealthy lifestyles like inactivity, physical inactivity or obesity," Dr Nagel told ABC News.

Professor Susan Sawyer, an expert in paediatric asthma and director of adolescent health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, agreed.

"I think this study is valuable in relationship to trying to help unpack why it is we have seen over the past 50 years in most high income countries a rising prevalence of asthma, which is now starting to be seen as well in low-income countries," she told ABC.

"There is growing evidence that perhaps the notion of a western diet which is high in fat could be part of this explanation."

Associate Professor Shyamali Dharmage, an epidemiologist and respiratory disease expert from Melbourne University, says more research is needed but she believes asthma is linked to childhood obesity.

Dr Dharmage told ABC: "We have done some research and we have shown that childhood obesity leads to subsequent development of asthma."

However, Dr Lisa Wood, a nutritional biochemist at the University of Newcastle, says there have been a number of studies which show that fat in the diet can lead to asthma.

"We gave people a challenge with dietary fat and looked at how that affected their airway inflammation and their asthma," she told ABC.

"In that study we found that when people have a couple of fast-food burgers and hash browns, after they consumed that meal, their airway inflammation increased."

Source: ABC News