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expert reaction to unpublished conference abstract on junk food and food allergies

A conference abstract from the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology suggests that advanced glycation endproducts in junk food might explain the dramatic increase of food allergies observed over the last few years. 


Dr Paul Turner, Clinician Scientist at Imperial College London and Consultant in Paediatric Allergy, said:

“There has been a clear increase in the prevalence of food allergy, although it now seems that this has reached a plateau. The reasons for the increase are likely to be due to a number of factors, and the thought that “junk” food might be contributory is not new. Indeed, the mechanism in the abstract was proposed a few years ago by Dr Pete Smith in Australia.

“It is difficult to assess the data from the abstract alone, and in particular the results – if indeed true – could be “by association” rather than a direct impact of junk food on food allergy risk. For example, does food allergy itself result in increased AGE levels, rather than the other way round?

“We look forward to seeing the actual data presented so that we can assess the study in further detail. In the meantime, there is no doubt that an unhealthy lifestyle – with low exercise/activity, too much sedentary activity, excessive screen time and an unhealthy diet, can contribute to a reduction in health, and increase the risk of non-communicable disease including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and allergy.”


The abstract ‘How junk food can contribute to the food allergy epidemic: the potential role of advanced glycation endproducts’ by Roberto Berni Canani et al. was presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition on Saturday 8th June. 


Declared interests

Dr Paul Turner: No declarations of interest.

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