Healthy diet

Children who eat three or more burgers a week may be at a higher risk of asthma and wheezing, but a healthy diet rich in fruit and fish seems to stave off the risk, according to a large international study released Thursday.

Researchers from Germany, Spain and Britain who studied data on 50,000 children across the world found the link between burgers and asthma was strongest in rich nations where diets with high levels of junk food are more common.

Conversely, a so-called Mediterranean diet – heavy on fruit, vegetables and fish, while light on fat – can help stave off asthma-related respiratory problems, said the study.

“Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and other biologically active factors which may contribute to the favorable effect … in asthma,” said Gabriele Nagel, of the Institute of Ep-idemiology at Ulm University, Germany, who led the study.

However, tucking into burgers is probably not a direct cause of the disease so much as an indicator of a complex basket of lifestyle factors that favor its development, the researchers noted.

“This is a sign that the link is not strongly related to the food itself, but burgers are a proxy for other lifestyle and environmental factors like obesity and lack of exercise,” Nagel said.

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. Worldwide, the disease af-flicts some 300 million people and kills about 250,000 each year, according to the World Health Organization.

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