Fast food and unhealthy meals could raise the risk of young people developing asthma and eczema, a study has indicated.
Eating more than three helpings of junk food on a weekly basis has been connected with serious cases of asthma in youngsters.
The research, from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood, has concluded that bad eating habits could be putting children at greater risk of health problems.
Teens are almost 40% more likely to develop severe asthma if they consume over three portions of hamburgers, fries and pizza every week, while this risk falls to just under 30% in under-13s.
Youngsters who eat such quantities of junk food are also at a higher risk of severe rhinitis - an illness with cold-like symptoms and eye irritation - said the research in the respiratory journal Thorax.
Its authors said that if there is enough evidence of a direct relationship, it could prompt a widespread review of health advice.
The study involved 319,000 participants, aged 13 and 14, of 51 nationalities; and 181,000, aged six and seven, of 31 nationalities.
The researchers said: “If the association between fast foods and the symptom prevalence of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema is causal, then the findings have major public health significance owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally.”
Malayka Rahman, research analysis and communications officer at Asthma UK, said “This research adds to previous studies that suggest a person’s diet can contribute to their risk of developing asthma, and indicates the benefit of further research to determine the effects that particular food groups can have on the chances of developing asthma, or the impact it may have on severity.”
She also said that the nutrients found in good quality fruit and vegetables could help relieve the symptoms of asthma.
Asthma UK recommends that people suffering from asthma should consume a diet of five daily helpings of fruit or vegetables, fish at least three times a week, and pulses at least twice a week.