Food Allergies Continue to Rise Among Adults and Children
Two 2017 studies show that food allergies have continued to increase over the past decade. The research also shows that more adults are becoming allergic to foods during their adult years.
Food allergies among adults is growing
A study presented at the 2017 American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting has shown that food allergies are now affecting about 3.6 percent of U.S. adults.
This rate is 44 percent higher than the 2.5 percent rate found in a large 2004 study. Furthermore, tree nut allergies have increased from 0.5 percent in 2008 to 1.8 percent in 2017. This represents an increase of 260 percent in tree nut allergies.
In addition, the study found that an astounding 45 percent of people with food allergies are now developing the food allergy during their adult years. This is significantly higher than found in a number of previous studies.
Dr. Ruchi Gupta, MD, lead author of this study, underscored the importance of this new information:
“Food allergies are often seen as a condition that begins in childhood, so the idea that 45 percent of adults with food allergies develop them in adulthood is surprising. We also saw that, as with children, the incidence of food allergies in adults is rising across all ethnic groups.”
Allergies increasing in children
In another study presented at the ACAAI annual meeting, researchers found that allergies are also increasing among children in the U.S.
The study surveyed more than 53,000 households in the United States during 2015 and 2016. The researchers found that allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish and sesame have increased significantly in children. The allergy rates reported were compared to a similar study conducted in 2010.
The researchers found that childhood peanut allergies have grown 21 percent since 2010 in the U.S. Now nearly 2.5 percent of U.S. children are being diagnosed with a peanut allergy.
Furthermore, allergies to tree nuts increased by 18 percent from 2010. Allergies to shellfish increased by 7 percent.
The researchers reported that allergies increased more among black children compared to white children.
“According to our data, the risk of peanut allergy was nearly double among black children relative to white children. Black children were also significantly more likely to have a tree nut allergy relative to white children. These findings are consistent with previous work by our group suggesting that black children in the US may be at elevated food allergy risk,” said study co-author Christopher Warren, PhD candidate.
Why allergies continue to increase
As I illustrate in my book, one of the main reasons for the increase in food allergies relate to the continued decimation of our gut’s probiotics.
The continued expansion of antibiotic use – directly prescribed and given to animals – is a central reason. This and certain dietary habits in our society are increasingly eliminating the probiotics that produce enzymes needed to break down key proteins in these foods.
When we lose these probiotics, key food proteins are not broken down in the gut. Instead, they come into contact with the intestinal walls as very large unbroken proteins. The body’s immune system marks them as invaders because these uncleaved complex proteins are unusually large and not useful for the body. So the immune system marks them as foreign with antibodies.
Find out more in my book on the topic:
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Almost Half of Food Allergies in Adults Appear in Adulthood. Press Release. October 27, 2017. Boston, MA.
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. New Study Suggests 21 Percent Increase in Childhood Peanut Allergy Since 2010. Press Release, October 27, 2017. Boston MA.