Like it or not, the United States needs to recognize food allergies as a major problem that is only getting worse.
Think of it like this…we hear all about childhood obesity rates in the US. According to the statistics (http://stateofobesity.org/obesity-rates-trends-overview/), one in six kids are obese. The federal government, local governments, and prominent organizations are all working on solving the obesity issue. In fact here in NYC, there was a major push recently to limit the size of sugary soft drinks to stem the tide.
I was under the impression that one in thirteen children have food allergies, but at the recent Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Denver, CO (http://fablogcon.com/) I was told that the number is now one in twelve. That doesn’t surprise me…the numbers have been trending worse for a while now.
Why don’t we hear more about the food allergy problem? It may only affect 8% of children today, but we know the problem is getting worse. Do we need to wait until 17% of kids have food allergies before we take it more seriously? Why is there so little awareness out there?
I would argue that food allergies in children is already a bigger problem than childhood obesity.
Obese children can eat better, exercise, and lose weight. Yes, the obesity could kill them, but only if bad habits are perpetuated overtime. Obesity is a slow killer.
Food allergies on the other hand can kill instantly. There are currently no cures. Food allergy percentages may be lower, but food allergy risks are much higher.
I was discouraged this week when I dropped my daughter off at a friend and warned the parent about her peanut allergy…the parent responded not to worry because they don’t eat peanuts in their house. I couldn’t believe that in 2015 I had to educate this person that it’s not actual peanuts that scare me, but the peanut ingredients in regular food.
I was also discouraged this week when I spoke to a local bakery owner who claims to be nut-free—even though he admittedly uses ingredients that “may contain” nuts. Plus he uses sesame seeds. Yet he claims to be nut-free and sells to several local schools.
On the other hand, I was encouraged this week to learn details about the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 (https://goo.gl/VEl9Ot). In general it aims to make life easier and safer for food-allergic consumers and adds much needed protection for those allergic to sesame seeds (http://goo.gl/WbkcZH). These are encouraging steps in the right direction.
Let’s keep working on building awareness to the food allergy problem and let’s keep the pressure on our federal, state, and local governments to acknowledge the severity of the food allergy problem and to continue to work on making this world safer for those effected.
I’d love your feedback. I’ll repost some of your thoughts.
You can also email me at aweissman@AllerGuarder.com.