How many people have food allergies?

Food allergies affect 4 to 8 percent of children and 2 percent of adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the US, food allergy incidence increased by 18 percent from 1997 to 2007. Reasons for this increase range from misdiagnosis to potential increases due to extreme approaches to cleanliness.
Greenville Health System
Administration
Food allergies affect about 6% of children and 3.5% of adults. Recent U.S. studies indicate that the prevalence of food allergies is increasing. For children, the most significant food allergies are milk, egg and peanuts, with prevalence rates of 2.5%, 1.3% and 0.8%, respectively. Rates of food intolerances are much higher than true IgE-mediated food allergies.

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UCLA Health
Administration
According to Marc Riedl, MD, who serves as co-director of UCLA’s Food Allergy Clinic, "Food allergies are not as common as most people think. When asked, as many as 30% of people will say they have a food allergy, but the vast majority of these people don’t have a true, life-threatening food allergy." The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimates that food allergies occur in 6% to 8% of children 4 years of age or younger, and less than 4% of adults.

Dr. Riedl explains, "There is tremendous stress and anxiety associated with perceived food allergies, and often these concerns are unnecessary and unfounded. It’s very uncommon, particularly in adults, to have long lists of true food allergies."

Says pediatric allergist Maria Garcia-Lloret, MD, co-director of UCLA’s Food Allergy Clinic, "Misdiagnoses often occur when people receive blood allergy tests for multiple foods. In some cases, these tests may overestimate the body’s immune response to the antigen that causes a reaction. This may prompt some people to restrict their diets unnecessarily, which can increase financial burdens for families who believe they need to purchase expensive, specialized foods to avoid allergic reactions, and may also lead to nutritional deficiencies in children."
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), as many as 15 million Americans have food allergies, including approximately 6 million children.  Food allergy is a growing public health concern in the U.S. Though reasons for this are poorly understood, the prevalence of food allergies and associated anaphylaxis appears to be on the rise. The incidence of peanut and tree nut allergy among children appears to have tripled between 1997 and 2008.  Research suggests that food-related anaphylaxis might be underdiagnosed.

     
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Administration
An estimated 2.5 percent of Americans — 7.5 million people — have at least one food allergy and young black children with asthma appear to be at the highest risk, according to a recent 2010 study.
Scientists estimate that approximately 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies.

Continue Learning about Food Allergies & Food Intolerance

Food Allergies & Food Intolerance

Food Allergies & Food Intolerance

Food allergies occur when the body attacks a food it mistakes as harmful, causing symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, shortness of breath or hives. With food intolerance, the digestive system alone rejects the food, f...

inding it difficult to digest properly. Foods such as peanuts, shellfish, eggs, soy or wheat are the most common type of food allergens.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.