Washington: We all know how bad junk food is for our health still, we find ourselves giving in for this delectable food. However, a new study showed that junk food is associated with food allergy in children.
The study is being presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of ESPGHAN in Glasgow.
The researchers from the University of Naples ‘Federico II’ observed three groups of children aged between 6-12 years old (61 children in total): those with food allergies, those with respiratory allergies, and healthy controls.
The study revealed a significant correlation between subcutaneous levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and junk food consumption, and further, that children with food allergies presented with higher levels of subcutaneous levels of AGEs than those children with respiratory allergies or no allergies at all.
In addition, the research team found compelling evidence relating to the mechanism of action elicited by AGEs in determining food allergy.
AGEs are proteins or lipids that become glycated after exposure to sugars and are present at high levels in junk foods – deriving from sugars, processed foods, microwaved foods, and roasted or barbequed meats.
AGEs are already known to play a role in the development and progression of different oxidative-based diseases including diabetes, atherosclerosis (where plaque builds up inside the arteries), and neurological disorders but this is the first time an association has been found between AGEs and food allergy.
“As of yet, existing hypotheses and models of food allergy do not adequately explain the dramatic increase observed in the last years – so dietary AGEs may be the missing link. Our study certainly supports this hypothesis, we now need further research to confirm it. If this link is confirmed, it will strengthen the case for national governments to enhance public health interventions to restrict junk food consumption in children,” said Roberto Berni Canani, principal investigator of the study.
While firm statistics on global food allergy prevalence are lacking, there is growing evidence that incidence is on the increase, especially amongst young children, and prevalence is reported to be as high as 10 per cent in some countries.
Similarly, over recent decades there has been a dramatic increase in the consumption of highly-processed foods (which are known to contain higher levels of AGEs), and highly-processed foods have been reported as comprising up to 50 per cent of total daily energy intake in European countries.