Food For Thought: Diet’s Surprising Role In Asthma


A new study by Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and University of Sydney researchers has linked the prevalence of people diagnosed with asthma to nutrition and food accessibility.

Professor Ralph Nanan

Professor Ralph Nanan

The study, recently published in international journal Allergy, is the first of its kind to associate asthma with global food environments and explores the relationship of the disease with macronutrient supply of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Prevalence rates of both male and female genders from a number of countries were analysed and compared using data collected between 1990 and 2018.

Modelling revealed that carbohydrate supply was most strongly associated with increases in asthma prevalence rates, while fat supply had the opposite effect.

No significant difference was recorded for a diet that contained plant-based and animal-based fats, however extremely high or low animal-based protein supplies were associated with higher asthma burden.

Author of the study and Professor of Paediatrics at NBMLHD Professor Ralph Nanan says the results imply a driving role of carbohydrate supply for asthma disease burdens.

“The results are a positive step in asthma diagnosis, and I hope they are instructive towards future estimation of asthma disease burden, guiding both medical research and public health policymaking.”

It is hoped that further research will investigate and delve deeper into associations between macronutrient supply, asthma, and related factors like ancestry/ethnicity, physical activity, sleep, and dietary patterns.

Full findings from the study have been published in journal, Allergy.

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