Several studies have reported an association between a diet low in fruits, vegetables, vitamin C and overweight and the presence of asthma. The primary aim of the present study was to compare the intake of nutrients and food items in asthmatic and healthy adolescents and secondarily to compare the intake with the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR). We also wanted to determine the occurrence of overweight in asthmatic compared to healthy adolescents.
Subjects and methods
A total of 169 adolescents (13 years old) were included in the study, 93 with a history of asthma (51 with current asthma) and 76 healthy control subjects. Their entire food intake was registered for four days using a validated 18-page pre-coded food diary.
The intake of sugar-containing soft drinks was significantly higher in adolescents with asthma compared to healthy adolescents, as also was the intake of snacks. All groups had an intake of saturated fat and added sugars exceeding the Nordic Nutrition recommendations, while the intake of fruits and vegetables, fibre, vitamin D, calcium and magnesium was mostly lower than recommended. The intake of vitamin C was adequate for all groups. The prevalence of overweight (including those obese) was 19.3% in adolescents with asthma compared to 11.8% in the control group.
The higher consumption of sugar-containing soft drinks and snacks compared to healthy controls suggest a less healthy diet in asthmatic adolescents. There is a demand for additional dietary research in children and adolescents with asthma, also examining gender differences. The dietary intake in all girls and boys had a potential for improvement compared to the Nordic Nutrition recommendations.