Diet Linked to Respiratory Function in Adolescents

Low dietary intake of fruits, fatty acids increases risk of poor respiratory function

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents with low dietary intake of fruit and certain fatty acids are at higher risk of poor respiratory function, researchers report in the July issue of Chest.

Jane S. Burns, Sc.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the relationship between dietary factors -- such as fruits, vegetables, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids -- and respiratory health in 2,112 twelfth-grade students in the United States and Canada in 1998-1999. Students completed a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire and a questionnaire on respiratory function. Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV-1) was also measured.

The researchers found that students with low fruit intake had a lower FEV-1 and a higher risk of chronic bronchitic symptoms (odds ratio 1.36) than students with high fruit intake. Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids increased the risk of chronic bronchitic symptoms (OR, 1.37), wheeze (OR, 1.34) and asthma (OR, 1.68). Students who smoked and had low vitamin C intake were at higher risk of respiratory symptoms than smokers with higher vitamin C intake.

"Adolescents with the lowest dietary intakes of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micronutrients had lower pulmonary function and increased respiratory symptoms, especially among smokers, suggesting that adequate dietary intake may promote respiratory health and lessen the effects of oxidative stress," Burns and colleagues conclude.

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