Food’s to blame

University of Western Sydney Professor of Immunology and Allergy, and Campbelltown Hospital Allergy Specialist, Professor Connie Katelaris has said that Australia has topped the list in food allergies as most people believe they are suffering from the same.

However statistics tell a different story. One in 10 Australians believe they have a food allergy, but just 1 to 2% have a true allergy to some types of food.

“What’s more, these imagined food allergies are far more likely to be reported by women than by men,” Professor Katelaris said at a meeting of dermatologists. “And food allergy is a diagnosis favoured by alternative practitioners, despite the lack of evidence showing that it is to blame.”

Australians seem to be the world’s worst food allergy hypochondriacs, blaming food for their bloating, fatigue and other symptoms, when in more than 90% of cases there is no evidence their diet has anything to do with it.

Although some of the difference can be accounted for by less dangerous but still unpleasant food sensitivities, both categories still seem to be over-diagnosed.

As a result, many people are needlessly limiting their diets in the false belief this does them an element of good. In fact, they are simply putting themselves at risk of malnutrition and further ill-health.

Professor Katelaris told a recent medical conference that the phenomenon is being fuelled by the popularity of instant tests offered by some alternative medicine practitioners, which purported to detect food allergies by analysing hair or blood, but are in fact entirely bogus.

According to Professor Katelaris, the popularity of these diagnoses comes from the fact that they are easily understood by the average person, and easily reacted to. An immune system problem, which is far more complicated, I not as ‘attractive’.

Although genuine food allergy affect about 6% of children, most of these cases are usually resolved. About 97% of children allergic to dairy products shed their sensitivity by adulthood, while two-thirds of children outgrow allergy to eggs and 20% lose their allergy to peanuts.

Immunologists and other doctors agree that food allergy is being overblown.


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