The Grapevine

Rising Cases Of Food Allergies Tied To Junk Food Consumption

New research found that there are increasing cases of food allergies caused by junk food consumption. Experts found that in Western countries such as the U.K., many patients experience episodes of anaphylactic shock caused by food reactions in the last decade.

Statistical data found in a study published by NHS Digital showed 1,362 cases from 2011 to 2012 and 1,922 more from 2016 up to 2017 of patients experiencing episodes of anaphylactic shocks due to food allergies in England. Scientists also found that advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) were mostly the culprit of these conditions that are commonly found in highly processed foods and cooked meat.

The results of the study were presented during the annual meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition in Glasgow. Parents in the study submitted information about their children’s diet for seven days. It was then found that about 20 to 40 percent of the children consumed more junk food per week than children who had no food allergies. They were suspected of eating food that had higher levels of AGEs.

AGEs form when the body’s sugar reacts with protein or lipids. They easily reach high concentrations in the body when food items rich in AGEs are consumed. According to the lead researcher Roberto Berni Canani of the University of Naples, snacks such as hamburgers, French fries and most commercial foods have high AGE content.

Canani also highlighted that AGEs might directly interact with children’s immune cells, particularly those with food allergies, and adversely affect their gut. The study, however, has a small focus group and the findings lack veracity in proving that consuming more junk food causes food allergies.

According to a professor of pediatrics at the Imperial College London John Warner, children who ate more junk food were less likely to follow a Mediterranean diet composed of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. These food items, when consumed, reduce the risk of food allergies, according to The Guardian.

Dr. Andrew Clark, a consultant in pediatric allergy at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, suggested more research is required to confirm that junk food consumption could lead to food allergies. However, he agreed that children should avoid eating junk food for several health reasons.

Junk food Junk food sold at street stalls. Igor Ovsyannykov/Pixabay