London - Playing in the sunshine reduces the risk of children developing eczema and food allergies, researchers claim.

Those living in areas with lower levels of sunlight are at greater risk of developing the conditions, their study found.

Scientists used data from analysis of Australian children and how rates of food allergies, eczema and asthma varied throughout the country.

On average children in the south of the country were twice as likely to develop eczema as those in the north. There was also a link between latitude and allergies to peanuts and eggs.

Sunlight is important because it provides the fuel to create vitamin D in the skin. Australia is a particularly good place for this type of study as it spans nearly 3,000 miles from north to south, with a large variation in climate, day length and sun strength.

Dr Nick Osborne, who led the researchers at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, a joint initiative between Plymouth and Exeter universities, warned: “As always, care has to be taken we are not exposed to too much sunlight, increasing the risk of skin cancer.” - Daily Mail