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Junk food could be responsible for the food allergy epidemic
Experts at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) will present research showing that higher concentrations of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) abundant in Junk Foods are associated with food allergies in children.
Researchers of the University of Naples "Federico II" observed three groups of children aged 6-12 years: Children with food allergies, children with respiratory allergies and healthy children without allergies. They found that there is a clear correlation between the subcutaneous level of AGEs and the consumption of junk food. In addition, the study found that children with food allergies had a higher proportion of AGEs than children with respiratory allergies or no allergies at all. The research team also found strong evidence of the mechanism of action of AGEs in the determination of food allergies.
AGEs are proteins or lipids that are glycosylated after exposure to sugars and are present in high concentrations in junk food - they can be traced back to sugar, processed foods, microwave-heated foods and fried or grilled meat. AGEs are known to play a role in the development of diabetes, arteriosclerosis and neurological diseases, but this is the first time a link has been found between AGEs and food allergies.
There is increasing evidence that the prevalence of food allergies is increasing, particularly among young children, and in some countries the incidence is known to be up to 10%. Similarly, the consumption of highly processed food, which accounts for up to 50% of total daily energy consumption in European countries, has increased dramatically.
The chief examiner, Roberto Berni Canani:
"Existing models of food allergies do not explain the dramatic increase observed in recent years, so dietary AGEs may be the missing link. We need further research to confirm this and strengthen the case for governments to improve public health measures to reduce the use of junk food by children."
Isabel Proaño of EFA (European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations) added:
"Health professionals and patients do not have access to the necessary expertise to deal with a disease that dramatically affects the quality of life. Industrial food processing and gaps in labelling do not help either. We call on the health authorities to provide better prevention and care for people with food allergies."
- fast food
- food allergies