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Fruit and Fish linked to lung health
teens who shun fruit & fish more prone to asthma, bronchitis
Search thestar.com Search the Web NUTRITION Fruit, fish linked to lung health Teens who shun such foods more prone to asthma, bronchitis Jul 10, 2007 04:30 AM Helen Branswell CANADIAN PRESS Teens who turn up their noses to fruit and fish may be undermining their lung health, new research suggests. The work, based on the study of 2,112 American and Canadian teenagers, found an association between good lung function and levels of dietary intake of fruit and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Teens who ate less of these foods had higher rates of asthma, wheezing and such symptoms of chronic bronchitis as cough and phlegm, said the researchers, from the Harvard School of Public Health and Health Canada, yesterday. "The walk-away (message) is that ... if your diet is generally lacking in these types of things your risk of having and continuing to have symptoms associated with chronic bronchitis and asthma are increased," said Mark Raizenne, director of Health Canada's sustainable development division. "Even in adolescence if you're starting to have poor nutrition and you're starting to have some of these poor habits, you will probably start having the symptoms that are associated with long-term respiratory problems. "And it starts that early. Don't be surprised in your 20s and 30s if you had those problems earlier on." Raizenne collaborated on the study in his previous job with Health Canada's health effects research section. The research team gathered information on diet, smoking, exercise levels and medications from selected Grade 12 students in 13 U.S. and Canadian communities. The Canadian teens who took part were from two Ontario communities – Leamington and Egbert – and Yorktown, Sask. They also asked the teens if they had ever been diagnosed with asthma or related conditions, and tested their lung functions. Lead author Jane Burns, with Harvard's School of Public Health, said teenagers who reported eating a quarter-serving or less of fruit per day were 36 per cent more likely to report having chronic bronchitis, chronic cough and phlegm. A quarter-serving of fruit a day is the equivalent of about two pieces of fruit a week. Those who had low intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid were 37 per cent more likely to have increased levels of these chronic bronchitic symptoms. Health Canada's new Canada Food Guide recommends teenage girls consume seven fruits and vegetables a day and recommends teenage boys consume eight. But the researchers found that 86 per cent of the teenagers reported they did not eat even five servings daily of these important foods. The study was an observational one, meaning the researchers could only observe what happened to subjects who followed a certain type of behaviour – in this case, a type of diet. Such studies can only point out what's called an association between a behaviour and an outcome. They cannot prove cause and effect.