What Should You (and Your Clients) Know About Food Allergies and Intolerances?

Having unrequited love for certain foods can be quite sad. This is what happens when we have a food sensitivity. We eat that favourite meal and then experience an adverse reaction to it, and we are left wondering why life isn’t fair.

Food sensitivities, although quite unpleasant, are pretty common these days and continue to be on the rise, with many people even living with it without knowing.

Whether it is an allergy, intolerance, or any other sensitivities, adverse reactions to food can affect our health and have debilitating effects.

In this chat with Dr Michelle de la Vega, Research Scientist (PhD) and VP of Science Education at The Health Sciences Academy, she sheds some light on some fundamental knowledge and interesting food sensitivity statistics to keep in mind.

So, whether you are a nutrition professional, a chef or culinary professional, a fitness professional, a medical professional, in the food and drink formulation business, or you are new to nutrition and want to grow your knowledge on food sensitivities, this is for you!


How many adults really suffer from food allergies?

While only 1% to 2% of adults are estimated to have a food allergy, about 15% to 20% of adults may have a food intolerance. 

Are allergies more prevalent in children?

It is estimated that as many as 4% to 7% of  children up to 5 years of age may have a food allergy. 

Are allergies a lifelong problem?

By the time we reach adulthood, only 1% to 2% of the population is estimated to have a food allergy.  

Does the number of people with allergies stay consistent year to year?

No. In fact, the number of individuals with food allergies is increasing! For example, the number of children admitted to hospitals in the UK for food-related anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) has risen by 700% from 1990 to 2007! 

How do allergens differ from country to country?

In the US, 8 different allergens are listed, while in the UK, Europe, and other countries, 14 different allergens are recognised.  

Do allergies and intolerances need to be diagnosed by a Doctor

The short answer is yes. Some individuals may assume they or their child have an allergy but do not get it checked out by a medical doctor, immunologist, or allergist.  

For example, a 2018 study in the US found that while 11% of the individuals in the study thought they had a food allergy, only 7.6% actually did.  

This can result in depriving oneself or one’s family of a food without any real reason.

How serious can allergic reactions be?

Anaphylaxis is a serious reaction to an allergen that can result in medically significant consequences – even death.

With a growing population, it’s important to be increasingly aware of the dangers of allergies and intolerances in potential clients – and to educate yourself appropriately.

In the UK, for example, rates of hospital admissions due to anaphylaxis doubled from 1998 to 2012.  

Are allergies or intolerances genetic? 

Parental allergies increase the risk of a child also having allergies. 

When one parent has medically-diagnosed allergies, the risk for the child also being medically diagnosed rises 40%. This climbs to an 80% higher risk when both parents have allergies. 

How many people are really lactose intolerant?

About 2% to 3% of children are estimated to have a cow’s milk allergy. 

The inability to break down lactose is widespread and is thought to be present in 65% to 70% of the world’s adult population, suggesting that many individuals may have a lactose intolerance .

How common is an allergy to peanuts?

Peanut allergies are estimated to affect 0.4% to 2% of the population.  

An estimated 15% to 22% of children with a peanut allergy will outgrow it before their teenage years. 

 Is gluten sensitivity as widespread as it seems?

Coeliac disease (a disease in which gluten can damage the small intestine) affects only about 1% of the population…

But the numbers are much higher for non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, which has been reported to affect up to 13% of us.

Large-scale surveys showed that up to 13% of the UK population believe they may have some form of gluten sensitivity! 

How can you acquire the knowledge for building personalised food allergies and intolerances nutrition plans for your clients?

Completing the Advanced Food Allergies and Intolerances Nutritional Advisor™ Certification is your first step towards gaining the expertise to help your clients identify which foods they may react to, and then reduce or eliminate these from their diet without increasing nutrient deficiency risk,

In this evidence-based certification from The Health Sciences Academy, you will discover:

  • The impact that food allergies and intolerances can have on an individual
  • How to develop an “allergy action plan”
  • How to perform food reaction risk assessments
  • How to support a client through a food elimination and reintroduction

And much more!

Want to start exploring this certification and others without paying immediately?

We have made this possible via the Academic Tour, brought to you by The Health Sciences Academy! The Academic tour affords you a smarter and more efficient way of navigating the world of nutrition science, giving you all that you need to launch or grow your nutrition career in one place!

Enjoy FREE access to a couple of modules in all our evidence-based certifications when you take the Academic Tour, PLUS… access to complete available free courses, take a Career Strategy Assessment, book a FREE Nutrition Career Review, claim an optional CPD certificate for 5 CPD hours, and much more!

Go here to start the Academic Tour now!

Do you want to discover more on how you can use evidence-based knowledge on food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities to inform your nutrition practice?

Join UCL Doctoral Researcher and Chief Science Educator at The Health Sciences Academy, Alex Ruani, for a special live CPD certified webinar this Friday, 20 August 2021, at 4:00 PM (UK time) as she discusses the Principles of Food Allergies and Intolerances when Working with Clients.

Click here to secure your seat now

See Also

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[CPD Certified Webinar] Child and Family Nutrition Strategies for Your Practice

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