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A poor diet increases the risk of asthma and other allergies
Date: 18 August 2000
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Rising prosperity and a resulting change in diet is leading to increased susceptibility to asthma and other allergies.
This is the conclusion of a research project described in a paper published today (22 August ) in “Thorax”, a leading medical journal which deals with issues related to respiratory diseases of all kinds.
Author of the paper is Professor Anthony Seaton, Head of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, at the University of Aberdeen.
Professor Seaton explained: “This study was carried out in Saudi Arabia by Dr Nariman Hizjazi, supervised both by me and Dr Bahaa Abalkhail of King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah.
“What we were able to demonstrate is that, after taking into account social factors and any family history of allergies, a diet relatively poor in vegetables and the nutrients contained in them increased the risk of asthma some 2-3 fold in Saudi children. This was consistent with our earlier findings in adults in Grampian.
“The research was based on communities which displayed clear differences in lifestyle and rates of allergies. Some 100 children, with an average age of 12, and with symptoms of asthma and wheeze, were compared with 200 non-asthmatic children.
“In basic terms, as prosperity has increased throughout Saudi Arabia during the past thirty years, there has been a tendency towards a western diet, a trend that is more marked in urban areas.
“There is now consistent evidence that diet is an important factor in determining whether or not a genetically predisposed individual actually develops the disease. Diet may be particularly important during pregnancy in protecting against allergy since it may influence the development of the immune system.”
Professor Seaton and his colleagues are following up these studies by studying the influence of mothers’ diets during pregnancy on asthma and allergies in their children, a study supported by a grant form the National Asthma Campaign.
Professor Seaton added: “We hope that the results of our research will eventually allow us to give sensible dietary advice that will lead to reduction in the incidence of asthma.”
The article appears on pps 775-779, Vol. 55. No 9, of “Thorax”, September
Further information from:
Professor Anthony Seaton, Tel: 0131 336 5113 until 21 August, thereafter
Christine Cook, Executive Director of Public Relations, Tel: 01224 272014
University Press Office on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.