Junk food may cause food allergy in children
Advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, which are found in abundance in junk food, are likely associated with the significant increase of food allergies among children in recent years, according to study results presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.
“There is growing evidence that [the] incidence of food allergy is on the rise, especially among young children,” study researcher Roberto Canani, MD, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “Over recent decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the consumption of highly processed foods, which are known to contain higher levels of AGEs, and highly processed foods have been reported as comprising up to 50% of total daily energy intake in European countries.”
The study provides the first evidence that higher levels of subcutaneous AGEs in children are linked with food allergy, according to Canani.
The researchers evaluated pediatric patients aged 6 to 12 years of middle socioeconomic status who lived in urban areas, categorizing them in three groups — those with challenge-proven food allergy (n = 23), those with respiratory allergy (n = 16) and healthy controls (n = 22). They evaluated all patients’ subcutaneous AGE levels using an AGE reader, and participants completed questionnaires evaluating how often they had eaten foods containing AGEs. Patients at risk for allergy supplied human enterocytes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells for in vitro study, which revealed a direct negative influence on immune and nonimmune tolerogenic mechanisms.
Consumption of food with AGEs was highest among patients with food allergy, compared with those who had respiratory allergy and healthy controls, Canani and colleagues found. Patients with food allergy and patients with respiratory allergy had significantly higher subcutaneous levels of AGEs. In all patients, linear regression analysis confirmed a significant positive correlation between subcutaneous levels of AGEs and the consumption of food containing AGEs, the researchers reported.
“The data obtained in our study strongly suggest a negative impact on the protective factors against food allergy (the integrity of the gut barrier system and allergic/inflammatory response),” Canani said.
He added that clinicians should emphasize to their patients the impact of diet on the occurrence of food allergy. They also can advocate for a diet based on homemade foods that are rich in vegetable fiber and advise against a diet rich in junk foods, he said. – by Joe Gramigna
Canani, RB, et al. How junk food can contribute to the food allergy epidemic: The potential role of advanced glycation endproducts. Presented at: ESPGHAN 2019; June 5-8; 2019; Glasgow, Scotland.
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.