For some malaise laughter is the best medicine.

And we know, of course, that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

But who'd have thought that a snack box of KFC, of all things, could be the best medicine for some little children?

Wellington 8-year-old Eva Murray has cystic fibrosis and needs help to breathe every day. She has regular physiotherapy to break up the mucus in her body and often gets chest infections.

People with cystic fibrosis also have trouble metabolising fat so need to consume a high-calorie diet to maintain a healthy weight.

So, remarkably, experts say KFC can be a good part of a balanced diet for Eva.

KFC is one of the few fast-food chains that has never tried to pretend it is healthy, when others are hiring public relations consultants to boast of the benefits of their salads or filled roles for weight loss and good health.

The only nod to the public's changing nutritional expectations KFC has ever made is to change its name from Kentucky Fried Chicken, to avoid reminding customers that most of their food is cooked in oil.

Yet, to Eva, KFC is almost a health food. "To say KFC is the perfect cystic fibrosis food is an understatement," said Cystic Fibrosis Association chief executive Kate Russell.

The association is a recipient of a Cathay Pacific High Flyer Award in association with the Herald on Sunday. The award will fund travel for a representative to an international conference to gain information to help people like Eva, said Russell.

A dietician, nurse or physician will attend the European cystic fibrosis conference in Hamburg in June. The information gathered will be taught to cystic fibrosis staff throughout New Zealand.

One of cystic fibrosis' main effects is on the body's mucus, changing it from a thin lubricant to a thick, sticky substance that blocks the tubes and ducts of organs. Mucus can also block tubes in the lungs causing shortness of breath and a chronic cough.