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Teens' Lung Health Is Linked to Their Diet
Date:3/6/2009

udents took lung-function tests and answered questions about their respiratory health.

Eating less than a quarter of a serving of fruit a day was linked to lower-than-average lung function and a greater incidence of chronic bronchitis symptoms and asthma.

Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish, was associated with an increased likelihood of chronic bronchitis symptoms, wheeze and asthma.

Teens who smoked and who had lower vitamin C intake had greater odds of respiratory symptoms than did smokers who had consumed more vitamin C.

"Smoking still remains one of the greatest threats to both respiratory and general health, and health messages geared toward teenagers should also focus on smoking prevention and cessation," Burns said.

"That being said," she added, "adolescents in this country do not consume adequate amounts of important nutrients, which we think has deleterious effects on respiratory health."

The federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updated in 2005, increased the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables from five servings a day combined to nine servings a day -- or 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit, Karpinski noted.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers more health tips for teens.

Feeding Your Teen Healthy Helpings

To sneak more fruits and veggies into your teen's diet, nutritionist Christine Karpinski suggests:

  • Having fresh fruit available and visible for snacking.
  • Adding dried fruit to whole-grain muffins, trail mix and the like.
  • Making smoothies with fresh or frozen fruit and milk or yogurt.
  • Adding single-ser
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