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Sharp rise in youngsters with Crohn's disease

23 June 2014 08:23

Doctors say eating too much junk food has an effect on Crohn's disease

Doctors say eating too much junk food has an effect on Crohn's disease

The number of young people with Crohn's disease has trebled in the past 10 years and doctors say the use of antibiotics and eating too much fatty foods are playing a part in the rising number of people contracting the illness.

Diet is partly responsible for the increase of the digestive problem, according to Dr Sally Mitton, a gastroenterologist at London's St George's Hospital.

She said people who eat lots of junk food are more likely to develop the condition but so are those who take a great deal of antibiotics - particularly if this happens at a young age.

Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which affects the lining of the body's digestive system. Sufferers often complain of abdominal pain, bleeding, diarrhoea and tiredness.

Like colitis it can be diagnosed at any age but it tends to begin when people are young. There is no known cure for it. People who suffer from the disease but still want to enjoy holidays abroad can do so by arranging specialist Crohn's travel insurance.

Doctors are not sure why fatty food is a factor but they suspect it increases the development of the disease in people who are genetically likely to have it during their lives. People with certain genes are more susceptible to Crohn's.

Dr Mitton said all medical centres that specialise in treating the disease have seen an increase in patients suffering from it. More people are being admitted to hospital even though doctors try to allow people to live with it in their own homes.

Data obtained by the BBC shows 19,405 people between the ages of 16 and 29 spent time in English hospitals being treated for Crohn's in 2012/13, while in 2003/4 the number was just 4,937.

The figures were obtained from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

A Crohn's and Colitis UK spokesman said although fatty food does have an impact on the disease, they are not the main reason for it as many suffers say they eat healthy diets. The charity says many things affect the condition, including specific genes that react to different environments.