A medical nutrition therapy primer for childhood asthma: current and emerging perspectives

J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Jul;111(7):1052-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.04.005.


Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. Prevalence has increased in the past 2 decades and has reached a plateau of approximately 9% of children in the United States, affecting about 6.7 million children. The increased prevalence of childhood asthma has paralleled the increased prevalence in childhood obesity. Changes in diet have also been implicated in the increased prevalence of asthma, among other risk factors. The main symptoms of asthma (ie, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness) require medical evaluation and monitoring. The cornerstone of asthma management is medication therapy, frequently consisting of inhaled bronchodilators and corticosteroids and, when needed, therapy of corticosteroids by mouth. As part of the multidisciplinary management of this chronic disease, nutrition assessment and follow-up in childhood asthma is necessary to identify and address relevant nutrition-related problems. These problems can involve food-medication interactions, obesity, gastroesophageal reflux disease, food allergies, and other issues; therefore, individualized medical nutrition therapy is warranted. Finally, counseling to achieve a healthy balanced diet is recommended for overall health and weight management. A recent but small number of descriptive investigations agree that adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern can be associated with a decreased risk of current asthma symptoms in children. Although this evidence is promising, food interventions are required to substantiate an evidence-based foundation for medical nutrition therapy in childhood asthma. At this time, there is no known health risk if a Mediterranean diet is adopted.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Bone Density
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Therapy*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / complications
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • United States


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents