British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Reduced medication use and improved pulmonary function with supplements containing vegetable and fruit concentrate, fish oil and probiotics in asthmatic school children: a randomised controlled trial

Shu-Chen Leea1a2, Yao-Hsu Yanga3, Shao-Yuan Chuanga2, Shih-Yi Huanga4 and Wen-Harn Pana1a2a5 c1

a1 Department of Biochemical Science and Technology, College of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

a2 Division of Preventive Medicine and Health Services Research, Institute of Population Health Sciences, National Health Research Institutes, Miaoli, Taiwan, ROC

a3 Department of Pediatrics, National Taiwan University Hospital, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

a4 Department of Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Health Science, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

a5 Institute of Biomedical Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC


Dietary pattern changes may be one of the key factors associated with increasing asthma prevalence. Observational studies have found negative associations between fruit, vegetable and fish consumption and risk of asthma. Experimental studies have also shown that probiotics can modulate the immune system. However, each dietary component exhibits a modest effect. The objective of the present study was to investigate the joint effect of multiple beneficial dietary components on asthma. We designed a 16-week school-based double-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial. The supplement group received fruit plus vegetable concentrate, fish oil and probiotics (FVFP supplement), while the control group received placebos. A total of 192 asthmatic children aged 10–12 years were recruited from elementary schools in metropolitan Taipei. Pulmonary function, medication usage, Paediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (PAQLQ) score and the Childhood Asthma Control Test score were evaluated at baseline, and at weeks 8 and 16. Compared with the placebo group, the supplement group showed significant improvement in pulmonary function parameters (91 v. 178 ml for forced vital capacity (FVC), 40 v. 107 ml for forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and 1·6 v. 4·8 % for FEV1:FVC ratio; all P values < 0·01) and had a significantly reduced proportion of those using short-acting inhaled bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids. However, the PAQLQ score and the Childhood Asthma Control Test score were not significantly different between the two groups, possibly because the majority of the children were treated routinely. FVFP supplements reduced medication use and improved pulmonary function in asthmatic children. The present study supports an adjuvant intervention with a combination of fruit, vegetable, fish and probiotic foods.

(Received March 14 2012)

(Revised July 30 2012)

(Accepted September 14 2012)

(Online publication December 05 2012)

Key Words:

  • Asthma;
  • Fruits and vegetables;
  • Fish oil;
  • Probiotics;
  • Children


c1 Corresponding authors: W.-H. Pan, fax +886 2 2782 3047, email, email


  Abbreviations: CACT, Childhood Asthma Control Test; FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 s; FVC, forced vital capacity; FVFP supplement, ‘fruit and veggie’ capsules, ‘fish oil’ capsules and ‘probiotic’ capsules; ICS, inhaled corticosteroids; ORAC, Oxygen Radical Antioxidant Capacity; PAQLQ, Paediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire