freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger The demonisation of the humble burger | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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Children who eat three or more burgers have a higher risk of developing asthma – well that’s one of the big health news stories doing the rounds today. Expect headlines that crucify burgers as public enemy number one of modern family living. Or something like that.

But on closer inspection, the research in question (carried out by German, Spanish and British researchers and published in the journal Thorax) doesn’t actually say that eating burgers may make kids more susceptible to getting asthma. No, not at all. According to the researcher who led the study – Gabriele Nagel of the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University in Germany – the link is not strongly related to the food itself, but, and I quote from the story published on, that “burgers are a proxy for other lifestyle and environmental factors like obesity and lack of exercise”.

In other words, if I understand Ms Nagel correctly, eating burgers is just symbolic, if you will, of other lifestyle factors that may well raise the risk of asthma in children (obesity, for instance, is widely thought to be linked to asthma). Or look at it this way – if your child eats lots of burgers, chances are they don’t belong to families that eat lots of fruit and veg (picture the obese couch potato parents feeding their obese couch potato kids takeaway burgers and chips every night … it’s such a cliché).

Now anyone who knows me realises that, being a vegetarian, I’d be the last person to defend the eating of burgers on any level, let alone three times a week (oh come on, wouldn’t you get bored of that anyway, especially kids?). But to demonise a food in the headlines, then explain that it’s not actually that food which is to blame for the health problem in question in the small print (or rather, several paragraphs into the story)… Not exactly responsible journalism, is it?