Food allergy prevalence stable in Canada
AllerGen researchers have released the results of a nationwide study assessing changes in the prevalence of food allergy among Canadians between 2010 and 2016.
The study, funded in part by Health Canada, found that 6.1% of Canadians reported having a probable food allergy in 2016 compared to 5.9% of Canadians in 2010, suggesting that the overall prevalence of food allergy remained relatively stable in the six years between surveys.
It is the first Canadian study to assess rates of food allergy over time, and the largest survey to date on food allergy prevalence in Canada.
“Although it has been suspected that the prevalence of food allergy is increasing, our study shows that there has been no change since our 2010 national survey,” said co-lead researcher Dr. Ann Clarke (University of Calgary).
“However, we did observe an increase in probable milk allergy among children, and in probable milk and wheat allergy among adults,” added Dr. Clarke. “This may relate to recent trends toward eliminating milk and gluten from one’s diet, as symptoms of intolerance can result when these nutrients are eventually consumed.”
“Our study also found that ‘perceived’ or self-reported food allergy prevalence increased,” noted study co-leader Dr. Susan Elliott (University of Waterloo), “which suggests that Canadians may have become more aware of food allergies in general, leading to an increase in self-reporting.”
The current study is based on data collected from 5,874 households, representing 15,322 individuals of diverse socio-economic and ethno-cultural backgrounds.