We really don't need any more research telling us Big Macs are bad for us – and our kids. We know that too much fast food makes us fat, and those dangerously high sodium levels do all sorts of further harm.
But here's yet another compelling reason to skip the fries: When you eat a fast food meal more than three times a week, a new study has found, it impacts the immune system. For kids, that increases the risk of asthma and eczema.
In the European study, researchers looked at survey data from two groups of children – 319,000 participants from 50 countries aged 13-14 and another 181,000 from 31 countries aged 6-7.
As Time reports, they found that eating fast food at least three times a week could be linked to a nearly 40-per-cent increase in "severe asthma" in the older kids and a 27-per-cent rise in the younger group. The researchers looked at other possible factors but found that fast food consumption was strongest link between the two age groups.
"If true, our findings have big public health implications given that these types of allergies are on the rise and fast food is so popular," study author Hywel Williams, a professor at the University of Nottingham in Britain, told Time.
As the article points out, the study supports earlier research that has shown saturated fats can have a negative impact how well the immune system operates.
A better dietary choice, the research suggests, was no surprise: Trade in the hamburger for a good old apple. The study found that eating fruits three or more times a week resulted in an 11-per-cent drop in severe symptoms for teenagers and a 14-per-cent decrease in kids.