Food Deserts Increase Asthma Risk in Kids

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Highlights:
  • A study analyzed data of 2,043 children between the ages of 6 to 18 years, while 57% of the children lived half a mile away from a grocery store while 10% lives a mile away
  • The study found that 21% of kids in food deserts developed asthma while 17% of kids who did not live in a food desert developed asthma
  • Lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables for kids who live in food deserts could be the reason for increased asthma risk
Kids who live in an urban area where it is difficult to get fresh fruits and vegetables are at a higher risk of getting asthma when compared with kids who have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The study was presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Food Deserts Increase Asthma Risk in Kids
Food Deserts Increase Asthma Risk in Kids

The study was based on data gathered from well child visits of 2,043 children between 6 to 18 years of age. 57% of the children surveyed lived half a mile away from a grocery store while 10% of the children lived a mile away.

The study found that
  • 21% of the children who lived in a food desert had asthma
  • 17% of the children who didn't live in a food desert had asthma
The study does not highlight the reason behind the access to fruits and vegetables and risk for asthma, however, it does highlight a possible connection.

Previous studies on the risk of asthma have shown that certain foods were found to lower the risk of asthma, and these include fresh fruits and vegetables. This is probably due to the high anti-oxidant level present in these foods that contributes to better health.

The prevalence of asthma shows a 20 to 60 fold difference in the geographical location of the child, with some places showing lowered prevalence while others showed a higher prevalence. It has been theorized that this could be the local conditions in these areas, which include the access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory disease which is characterized by swollen and inflamed airways or bronchial tubes in the lung. An asthma trigger can cause a further tightening of these airways that can affect the passage of air in and out of the lungs. The restriction in the passage of air can lead to a shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.

Exercise Induced Asthma

In some people asthma symptoms can be aggravated on physical exercise while in some people, who seem totally normal, exercise could trigger asthma, called exercise induced asthma.

There is no known cure for asthma, but the management of the condition is largely dependent on identifying the triggers and consulting a physician about therapeutic interventions. The most important aspect is to remain active and to have a good quality of life.

Asthma Epidemic Due to Thunderstorms

A study published by D'Amato G and colleagues in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy shows that a big thunderstorm could create an asthma epidemic. According to The fifth report on the InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change the green-house effect could trigger extremes of temperature changes across the world.

A heavy thundershower would result in a large proportion of pollen grains falling to the ground and becoming inhalable sized particles. This could expose a large number of people to pollen grain induced asthma attacks that can reach epidemic proportions.

The change in the climate and the environmental triggers can lead to an increase in asthma incidence. The current study on the association between living in a food desert and asthma brings to the fore the importance of eating right to keep disease at bay.

The study aids in promoting healthy eating habits that can build a better defense against asthma and safeguard against repeated episodes of asthma.

Top Health Foods to Prevent Asthma

  • Avocados protect the body from foreign pollutants and also protect cells from free radical damage.
  • Broccoli sprouts are rich in antioxidants and protect the air passages from asthma related inflammation.
  • Bananas- A study conducted on the association between banana and asthma found that eating a banana a day, lowered risk of asthma by 34%.
  • Flax Seeds are rich in potassium and magnesium which are good at alleviating asthma symptoms.
  • Kiwi Fruits: Children who eat vitamin C rich foods, at least 5 to 7 servings per week lower their risk for asthma by half.
Asthma can be controlled to a large extent by limiting exposure to allergens and by eating the right diet. The current study has shown the negative impact of living in food deserts where access to fresh fruits and vegetables are limited. Irrespective of the distance, children should be provided with fresh fruits and vegetables as it will aid in building their immunity and lowering risk of asthma.

References:
  1. Asthma Treatment - (http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma)
  2. Fruits Vegetables Can Prevent Asthma - (http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/06/30/how-fruits-and-vegetables-can-prevent-asthma/)
  3. Asthma Foods - (http://www.healwithfood.org/asthma/foods.php)
Source: Medindia

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