In a new study, researchers found that junk food may contribute to the food allergy epidemic.
This is because junk food contains high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which is linked to food allergy in children.
This is the first time a link has been found between AGEs and food allergy.
The research was done by a team from the University of Naples ‘Federico II’.
AGEs are proteins or lipids that become glycated after exposure to sugars and are present at high levels in junk foods.
Junk foods include processed foods, microwaved foods, and roasted or barbecued meats. AGEs play a role in the development and progression of diabetes, artery diseases, and neurological disorders.
There is growing evidence that incidence is on the increase, especially amongst young children.
Similarly, there has been a strong increase in eating highly-processed foods (which are known to contain higher levels of AGEs).
In the study, the team observed three groups of children aged between 6-12 years old: those with food allergies, those with respiratory allergies, and healthy children.
They found a strong link between high levels of AGEs and junk food consumption.
Moreover, children with food allergies had higher levels of AGEs than those children with respiratory allergies or no allergies at all.
These findings show there are still many dietary issues affecting children’s health and wellbeing.
The team calls on the public health authorities to enable better prevention and care of food allergy.
Future work needs to confirm the link between AGEs and food allergy in children. If the effect is confirmed, then new policies may be needed to reduce junk food consumption in children.
The leader of the study is Roberto Berni Canani.
The study was presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.
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