'A ballooning diet of junk food might be one of the factors fuelling a rise in food allergies, researchers have suggested.
Experts say they have seen a rise in food allergies in western countries, including the UK. While true prevalence can be tricky to determine, data published by NHS Digital shows episodes of anaphylactic shock in England due to adverse food reactions rose steadily from 1,362 in 2011-12 to 1,922 in 2016-17.
The culprit, some scientists have suggested, could be substances known as advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs.
AGEs occur naturally in the body, but they are found in high levels in highly processed foods, as well as other sources such as cooked meats. They form when sugars react with proteins or lipids. High levels of AGEs in the body, which it has been suggested can result from consuming AGE-rich foods, have previously been linked to a number of conditions including diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Now a small study by researchers in Italy has shown that children with food allergies have higher levels of AGEs in their bodies than healthy children without allergies. Children with respiratory allergies showed no such differences. The team also found that children with higher levels of AGEs consumed more food containing such substances.
“They are consuming a lot of snacks, a lot of hamburgers, a lot of French fries, a lot of commercial foods full of AGEs,” said Roberto Berni Canani of the University of Naples, who led the research presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition in Glasgow.'
Read more: Junk food may be fuelling rise in food allergies, say experts
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