Margarine consumption, asthma, and allergy in young adults: results of the German National Health Survey 1998

Gabriele Bolte, Gertrud Winkler, Bernd Hölscher, Wolfgang Thefeld, Stephan K Weiland, Joachim Heinrich
Annals of Epidemiology 2005, 15 (3): 207-13

PURPOSE: To examine whether frequent intake of margarine is associated with allergy prevalence in adults using data of a representative national health survey.

METHODS: Data on 7124 subjects aged 18 to 79 years were obtained from the German National Health Survey 1998. Confounder-adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated by multiple logistic regression, using the frequency of intake of low-fat butter, regular and low-fat margarine as explanatory variable in relation to frequent intake of regular butter as reference group.

RESULTS: Frequent intake of margarine of any kind was positively associated with current asthma during the past 12 months in young adults aged 18 to 29 years (aOR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.03-5.26). In subgroup analysis, the positive association was confined to frequent intake of low-fat margarine (4.51; 1.78-11.43) or the combination of low-fat margarine and low-fat butter (4.79; 1.84-12.44). Consumption of margarine of any kind was not related to hay fever, atopic dermatitis, and atopic sensitization to inhalant allergens.

CONCLUSIONS: Frequent intake of margarine rich in n-6 PUFA is not consistently associated with allergic diseases in adults. Other constituents of low-fat margarine or certain dietary habits and lifestyle factors, characterized by use of low-fat margarine, may be related to current asthma.

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