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Association between processed meat intake and asthma symptoms in the French NutriNet-Santé cohort



Processed meat intake may adversely affect lung health, but data on asthma remains sparse. The magnitude of the processed meat–asthma association may also depend on other unhealthy behaviors. We investigated the association between processed meat intake and the asthma symptom score, and the combined role of unhealthy weight, smoking, low diet quality, and high processed meat intake on the asthma score.


In 2017, 35,380 participants to the NutriNet-Santé cohort answered a detailed respiratory web-questionnaire. Asthma was defined by the asthma symptom score (sum of 5 questions; continuous variable). Based on repeated 24-h dietary records collected on a dedicated website, processed meat consumption was classified as 0, < 2, 2–5, > 5 servings/week. We examined the combined role of body mass index (BMI) (< 25 vs. ≥ 25 kg/m2), smoking (never vs. ever), diet quality score (highest vs. lowest), and processed meat (≤ 5 vs. > 5 servings/week) on the asthma symptom score.


Participants were aged 54 on average (women: 75%, smokers: 49%, BMI ≥ 25: 32%, ≥ 1 asthma symptoms: 27%). After adjustment for confounders, processed meat intake was positively and significantly associated with asthma symptom score: odds ratios (ORs) (95% CI) for > 5 vs. 0 servings/week were 1.15 (1.04–1.27) in women; 1.23 (1.01–1.50) in men. Compared to participants with 0 unhealthy behaviors, ORs for the asthma symptom score among participants with the 4 combined unhealthy behaviors were 2.18 (1.91–2.48) in women; 2.70 (2.10–3.45) in men.


High processed meat consumption was associated with higher asthma symptoms, and combining overweight/obesity, smoking, low diet quality, with high processed meat intake was strongly associated with asthma symptoms.

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The authors thank Younes Esseddik, Thi Hong Van Duong, Paul Flanzy, Régis Gatibelza and Jagatjit Mohinder (computer scientists), Cédric Agaesse (dietitian), Julien Allègre, Nathalie Arnault, Laurent Bourhis and Fabien Szabo de Edelenyi, PhD (data-manager/biostatisticians), Fatoumata Diallo, MD (Physician) for their technical contribution to the NutriNet-Santé study. We thank all the volunteers of the NutriNet-Santé cohort.


The NutriNet-Santé Study was supported by the following public institutions: Ministère de la Santé, Santé Publique France, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers and Université Paris 13. RMA was supported by a doctoral fellowship from the Ecole Doctorale Galilée, Paris 13 University, Sorbonne Paris Cité.

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RMA, PG and RV designed and conducted the research; SH, MT, NDP, AM, EKG, PG and RV provided essential reagents or provided essential materials; RMA and RV analysed data or performed statistical analysis; RMA, PG and RV wrote the manuscript and had primary responsibility for final content; RMA, SH, MT, NDP, MA, EKG, PG and RV were involved in interpreting the results and editing the manuscript for important intellectual content; all authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Roland M. Andrianasolo.

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Andrianasolo, R.M., Hercberg, S., Touvier, M. et al. Association between processed meat intake and asthma symptoms in the French NutriNet-Santé cohort. Eur J Nutr 59, 1553–1562 (2020).

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  • Processed meat
  • Asthma symptom score
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet