I have a nut allergy (hazelnut, in particular). As a result, I’m restricted from eating some particularly delicious foods and desserts. The reason I’m aware of this is because if you tell someone that you can’t eat Nutella, you will be met with the deepest condolences.

Reuters recently released an article about the results of new allergy study. More than 40,000 adults were surveyed, among which almost 11% reported symptoms that were consistent with a food allergy. Another 8% of participants said they believed they had a food allergy but their symptoms suggest different causes.

Reuters interviewed Dr. William Reisacher, director of allergy services at New York Presbyterian/ Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City for his take on the study. According to Dr. Reisacher, “I think this is a really important article. There was definitely a need for a study like this. The results are very compelling. It was though that maybe four to five percent of adults had food allergies. This is double that.”

So, twice the amount of adults had developed food allergies than previously thought. More surprisingly, many of them had developed their food allergies in adulthood. As Dr. Reisacher pointed out in the Reuter’s article, it truly makes you wonder what is happening to adults that is causing the increase in food allergies.

Dr. Corinne Keet, an allergy specialist at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, also spoke to Reuters. She pointed to the fact that quite a significant amount of people in the study incorrectly believed that they were allergic to some food. “What’s also important is the number of adults- and children- who think they have food allergies and don’t,” said Keet. “Almost half of the people who thought they had food allergies in this study did not. That’s a lot of people on unnecessary elimination diets that could have consequences in terms of cost, worry and nutritional impact.”

If rates of food allergies are going up in adults, many people out there could be at risk of exposing themselves to allergens of which they were previously unaware. It is important to know if you have a severe food allergy and prepare yourself to the best of your availability. If you are aware of your allergies, be particularly careful of restaurants, where cross contamination has a greater likelihood of affecting you.

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