US study finds some people needlessly avoid foods while others do not have life-saving medication
The number of adults who think they have a food allergy is almost double the figure who actually have one, research has revealed.
While the study was conducted in the US, experts say a similar situation is also seen in other countries, including the UK. The researchers found that many people with an allergy do not have a prescription for potentially life-saving medication, while others might be avoiding foods unnecessarily.
The study suggests almost 11% of adults in the US have a food allergy, equating to more than 26 million people. About 12 million of these are estimated to have developed the allergy as an adult, highlighting that allergies do not only begin in childhood.
“This is really concerning because chances are they could eat the food and then all of a sudden they have a reaction to a food that they could previously tolerate – so what changed in their environment or in them that caused them to now develop this food allergy?” said Ruchi Gupta, a professor of paediatrics at Northwestern University and a co-author of the research.
“Some of these foods you know that they probably were able to eat [previously] because they are such common foods in the diet, but shellfish was interesting – it could be one that they are trying for the first time as an adult.”