RT image_FastFood_opt250Children who eat fast food three or more times per week are at greater risk to develop severe asthma, eczema and rhinoconjunctivitis, according to a new study published by researchers at New Zealand’s Auckland University.

The data, which included youth from 51 developed countries, found that a fast food diet can create a 39% increase in severe asthma among teens and a 27% increase among children, according to a press release announcing the study.

The study, which was published online in the respiratory journal Thorax, analyzed the diets of 319,000 children aged 13 to 14 and 181,000 children aged 6 to 7.

Researchers said the high levels of saturated and trans fat found in fast foods negatively affect children’s immune systems. The diet was also linked to an overall increase in severity of rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema, according to the study.

Data also revealed that a diet of three or more weekly servings of fruit may reduce severe symptoms of asthma by 11% for teens and 14% for children, due to the presence of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. ??

Researchers said the study does not prove a cause and effect between fast food and asthma, but they recommend further investigation into the connection.

If such a connection can be proven, however, those findings would have major public health significance due to the rising consumption of fast foods globally, the study concluded.

To read the full study, click here.