Foods such as French fries, cheese, cookies, soda, and sports and energy drinks are common in the diets of United States adults with inflammatory bowel disease, according to a new study.
The researchers analyzed the National Health Interview Survey 2015 to determine the food intake and frequency of consumption for US adults with inflammatory bowel disease. The survey assessed 26 foods. The findings, which appear in PLOS ONE, reveal that foods typically labeled as junk food were associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
Inflammatory bowel disease, which features chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, affects three million US adults. There are two types of conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Common symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease include persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or bloody stools, weight loss, and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study finds that a greater number of people with inflammatory bowel disease ate French fries, and they also ate more cheese and cookies and drank less 100% fruit juice compared to people without the disease.
Consuming fries and sports and energy drinks and frequently drinking soda were significantly associated with receiving a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. Consuming milk or popcorn was less likely associated with receiving 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,” says Moon Han, the study’s first author, who completed the work as a PhD student in Didier Merlin’s lab in the Georgia State University Institute for Biomedical Sciences and now works as a Health Scientist ORISE Fellow at the CDC.
“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.”
To fully understand the role of food intake in inflammatory bowel disease risk and prevalence, it’s important to explore environmental factors (for example, food deserts), food processing (such as frying), and potential bioactive food components that can induce intestinal inflammation and increase susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease, the researchers conclude.
Funding for the study comes from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.