Food Allergies is a Worldwide Crisis… and It’s Growing Fast

Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed incredible growth in food allergies in recent years, both here in the US and abroad as well. According to a CDC report, in 2007 roughly 4% of Americans had food allergies. As we all know, today, just eight years later, we are close to 9%. That’s astounding!
With such explosive growth, is it possible that in 10-15 years 25% of all Americans could have food allergies?
To be sure, food allergies is a worldwide epidemic. Similar growth is reported internationally as well. According to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (ESSCI), more than 17 million Europeans have a food allergy, and hospital admissions for severe reactions in children have increased 600% over the last ten years. By comparison, in the United States, 2 kids in every classroom have food allergies. In Europe, it’s 1 kid in every classroom. But both numbers are growing.
It’s interesting to note the foods people are most allergic to in different parts of the world. Here in the US, we know the most common food allergies to be milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat (gluten), fish, shellfish, and sesame. In Europe you see these same food allergies, but you also see people commonly allergic to celery, crustaceans, lupin, mollusks, mustard, and sulphites (see this chart by England’s Food Standards Agency). If you start delving deeper country by country, you find that Spain, Italy and Greece have high rates of melon, apple, and peach allergies and Norway and Iceland have high rates of cod allergies.
In Asia, you see many of the same food allergies we have here in the US, however whereas peanut allergies are most common here, shellfish is the most common food allergen in Asia. Looking at specific countries, allergies to royal jelly are common in Hong Kong, pineapple in Ghana, bird’s nest in Singapore, buckwheat in Japan, jackfruit in Bangladesh and cucumber and papaya in India (see this article for more info).
These are interesting facts, however the common denominator is that food allergies are a growing problem and they are worldwide problem. The growth and prevalence of food allergies is scary, and soon the worldwide percentages will leapfrog epidemic standards and become pandemic.
We need to build awareness, we need to determine the cause of the problem and why it’s growing, and we need to find a cure.
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