Study finds that children’s junk food consumption linked to higher development of allergies

In facr, in some countries, food allergy cases have gone up as high as 10% in a relatively short amount of time. Researchers decided to look into it.

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Advanced glycation end products or AGEs, are proteins or lipids that become glycated after they are exposed to sugars.  These highly reactive molecules are found in processed foods like bacon, pizza, cake and most microwaved food, barbecued and roasted meats. Basically, they are found in all of your favorite, delicious junk foods.

The abundance of AGEs proteins in one’s body, impact the celerity at which aging occurs, and the development of degenerative diseases like diabetes, chronic kidney disease,  atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  The correlative risk associated with these conditions and AGEs has been well documented, but a new study helmed by researchers at  the University of Naples ‘Federico II, that premiered at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition, claims that the over-consumption of junk food causes the increased body levels of these molecules, which in turn leads to higher instances of food allergies.


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A startling dietary trend

According to a recent study, 34% of children eat fast food on a given day. The findings were released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics in chorus with The Center for Disease and Control’s review, stating that obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the last three decades.

These surging statistics set the stage for the University of Naples ‘Federico II’s recent investigation. The experts observed a similar upward trend of food allergies in many countries  In fact, in some countries, food allergy cases have gone up as high as 10% in a relatively short amount of time. With no documented explanation for this, the researchers got to work identifying a categorical cause.  

They began by analyzing the AGE levels beneath the tissue of a group comprised of 61 children between the ages of six and 12 years old. This group was further demarcated by three indicators: the healthy control group. the group with food allergies, and the group with respiratory allergies.  For one week, the participants had their food monitored by their parents with the help of a food diary.

It was found that the children with previously determined food allergies consumed roughly 20% to 40% more junk food than the children without allergies, in addition to the children with only respiratory allergies.  Of course, the first group also evidenced the highest amount of AGE levels in the body.

Roberto Berni Canani, the principal investigator explained to News Medical,  “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.”

The problem, however, is the study was much too small to issue any sort of official statement. As it stands, the AGE levels of most products aren’t featured on the packaging.  A larger sample size would have to be employed in order to convince public health authorities to advertise the risk increase for developing food-related allergies associated with junk food consumption.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.