London: Increased exposure to sunlight may help protect children from the risk of both food allergies and eczema, a study reveals.

Researchers from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, along with Australian institutions, have found that children living in areas with lower levels of sunlight are at greater risk of developing food allergies and eczema.

Researchers used data from a study of Australian children and analysed how rates of food allergy, eczema and asthma varied throughout the country, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported.

The report builds upon existing evidence that suggests exposure to the sun may play a role in rising levels of food allergy and eczema, a university statement said.

Sunlight is important because it provides our body with the fuel to create vitamin D in the skin, and locations closer to the equator typically receive higher levels of sunshine.

Nick Osborne, who led the research, believes these findings provide us with an important insight into the prevalence of food allergies and eczema, which appear to be on the increase.

"This investigation has further underlined the association between food allergies, eczema and where you live," said Osborne.

Osborne will present the findings at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Orlando on March 6.

(Agencies)