Are Your Food Allergies Real?

Over 10.8 percent of US adults have food allergies—and another 20 percent think they do.

Are Your Food Allergies Real?

Many parents refused to take their children to see last year’s film Peter Rabbit. The movie includes a scene in which Peter and a gang of bunnies use blackberries as a weapon to gain access to veggies in Thomas McGregor’s garden. He’s allergic to the fruit and when the rabbits’ slingshot a berry into his mouth, he struggles with an EpiPen, experiences anaphylaxis and collapses.

Food allergies aren’t something to joke about! SONY publicly apologized for their misstep. But that’s not the only misunderstanding of this serious medical condition that needs to be called out.

A survey published in JAMA finds that while 10.8 percent of US adults (over 26 million folks) actually have a food allergy, almost 20 percent think they do! There’s a lot of self-diagnosis going on, and that means folks with troubling symptoms are unnecessarily avoiding certain foods—and not getting diagnosed for what is causing their digestive, skin or other health problems.

Surveying more than 40,000 people, the researchers found shellfish, milk, peanut/tree nuts and fin fish are the most common food allergies—and 48 percent of those with food allergies developed them as an adult.

Think you have a food allergy?

  1. Get tested.
  2. If diagnosed, get an EpiPen prescription and always carry one—unfortunately, only about 25 percent of food-allergic folks do.
  3. Read food labels.
  4. Food-allergy free, but troubled by symptoms such as digestive upset or skin irritation? See an appropriate specialist to determine the cause and find a solution.

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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