Childhood asthma is the most common respiratory disorder worldwide, being associated with increased morbidity and a decreased quality of life. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties; however, their efficacy in asthma is controversial. The present study aimed to examine the efficacy of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with a high omega-3 'fatty' fish intake in Greek asthmatic children.
A single-centred, 6-month, parallel randomised controlled trial compared the consumption of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with two meals of 150 g of cooked fatty fish weekly (intervention) with the usual diet (control) with respect to pulmonary function in children (aged 5-12 years) with mild asthma. Pulmonary function was assessed using spirometry and bronchial inflammation by fractional exhaled nitric oxide analysis.
Sixty-four children (52% male, 48% female) successfully completed the trial. Fatty fish intake increased in the intervention group from 17 g day-1 at baseline to 46 g day-1 at 6 months (P < 0.001). In the unadjusted analysis, the effect of the intervention was of borderline significance (P = 0.06, β = -11.93; 95% confidence interval = -24.32 to 0.46). However, after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index and regular physical activity, a significant effect was observed (P = 0.04, β = -14.15 ppb; 95% confidence interval = -27.39 to -0.91). No difference was observed for spirometry, asthma control and quality of life scores.
A Mediterranean diet supplemented with two fatty fish meals per week might be a potential strategy for reducing airway inflammation in childhood asthma. Future robust clinical trials are warranted to replicate and corroborate these findings.