Junk food consumed by U.S. adults is associated with inflammatory bowel disease

According to a recent study, foods like cookies, sports and energy drinks, cheese, soda, and French fries are often present in the diets of U.S. adults suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.

The study was carried out by scientists at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University.

Junk Food

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The scientists examined the National Health Interview Survey 2015 to find out the frequency of food consumption as well as food intake in U.S. adults suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Twenty-six foods were assessed in this survey.

Published in the PLOS one journal, the findings showed that foods that are often labeled as junk food were linked with inflammatory bowel disease.

Inflammatory bowel disease affects millions of adults in the United States and is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. There are two types of inflammatory bowel disease—ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue, bloody stools or rectal bleeding, persistent diarrhea, and weight loss are common in inflammatory bowel disease.

This research discovered that a large number of people with inflammatory bowel disease consume fries. They also consume more cookies and cheese and drank less 100% fruit juice when compared to individuals who did not have inflammatory bowel disease.

People who frequently drink soda and consume fries and sports and energy drinks are more likely to be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. On the other hand, people who eat popcorn or drink milk are less likely to receive this diagnosis.

While foods typically labeled as junk food were positively associated with inflammatory bowel disease, we found the eating patterns of people with and without this disease to be very similar, However, it’s unclear whether the survey results reflect a potential change in the food intake of people with inflammatory bowel disease long before the survey was conducted.”

Dr Moon Han, Study First Author, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Han completed the work as a Ph.D. student in Dr. Didier Merlin’s laboratory in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences and currently works as a Health Scientist ORISE Fellow at the CDC.

To completely interpret the role of food intake in the risk and prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease, it is crucial to study food processing (for example, frying), the environmental factors (for instance, food deserts), and potential bioactive food components that can lead to intestinal inflammation and increase the individuals’ sensitivity to inflammatory bowel disease.

Journal reference:

Han, M. K., et al. (2020) Examination of food consumption in United States adults and the prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease using National Health Interview Survey 2015. PLOS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0232157.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoLifeSciences.
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