Food Allergies Among People Of Color Is More Common Than Their White Counterparts, According To New Study

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Food Allergies Among People Of Color Is More Common, New Study

Diverse palates, vibrant cultures, and flavors—food unites us all. Yet, a hidden challenge arises: food allergies among people of color compared to their white counterparts. Let’s learn more about it.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open reveals that people of color and those with lower incomes are disproportionately affected by food allergies compared to their white and higher-income counterparts.

Apparently Food Allergies Among People of Color Is More Common Than White People

Previous population-based studies on food allergies among people of color have been limited, with a focus primarily on children. This new research encompasses individuals of all ages.

Food allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to exposure and attacks normally harmless food proteins. Reportedly, there are more than 170 different foods that have been known to elicit allergic reactions in individuals.

Food Allergies Among People of Color

Food allergies can range from mild symptoms like an itchy mouth and hives to severe reactions that lead to breathing difficulties or even death. In the United States, food allergies result in approximately 200,000 emergency medical care visits each year.

According to the study, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics reported higher rates of food allergies compared to White individuals. Specifically, Hispanics (10.6%), Blacks (10.6%), and Asians (10.5%) had the highest prevalence of food allergies.

Read more here: High Protein Vegan Foods: How To Get Enough Protein Without Meat Or Dairy

Food allergies among Asians and non-Hispanic White individuals had the lowest rates of severe food allergy reactions. Regarding socioeconomic factors, households with incomes over $150,000 per year had the lowest number of reported food allergies (8.3%).

The study revealed that among Asian individuals, children had the highest rates of tree nut allergies, whereas adults showed a higher prevalence of allergic reactions to shellfish and peanuts.

Eggs and fin fish were the primary triggers for food allergies among Black people such as children, while adults had the highest rates of tree nut allergies.

For food allergies in people who are Hispanic, the most common triggers were hen’s eggs and fin fish. Additionally, Black individuals of any age with food allergies were more likely to report problems with multiple foods (50.6%).

The study surveyed 51,819 households with a total of 78,851 people between October 2015 and September 2016. It also examined the frequency of emergency room visits related to food allergies and the use of epinephrine, an injection used to treat breathing problems caused by allergic reactions.

Previous research has shown that approximately 11% of adults and 8% of children in the US are affected by food allergies, amounting to around 32 million Americans.

The prevalence of food allergies appears to be increasing, particularly among children, with a 50% rise between 1997 and 2011, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although the study does not establish the exact reasons behind the higher prevalence of food allergies among people of color, genetic factors are unlikely to be the sole cause.

Dr. Mahboobeh Mahdavinia, an associate professor of medicine, suggests that environmental factors and socioeconomic disparities play a significant role.

Ongoing research indicates that exposure to specific environmental microbes may affect the gut microbiome, potentially contributing to the development of food allergies. Pollution could also be a contributing factor, as people of color often reside in more polluted neighborhoods, regardless of income.

Read more here: 8 Healthy Junk Food Snacks That Will Satisfy Your Cravings Without Sabotaging Your Diet

The “atopic march,” a progression of allergic diseases throughout a person’s life, may also be relevant. For instance, babies with eczema, a skin condition, may have compromised skin barriers that increase the risk of absorbing allergens from the environment and developing food allergies.

Notably, eczema affects a higher percentage of Black children (around 20%) compared to White (around 16%) or Hispanic children (around 8%).

Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a co-author of the study, emphasizes the importance of raising awareness among healthcare providers about the higher prevalence of food allergies among people of color and the need for screening.

Education plays a vital role in the treatment of food allergies, but unfortunately, access to healthcare significantly impacts outcomes.

Currently, people of color have more food allergies and there is no specific treatment for food allergies aside from carrying an epinephrine auto-injector in case of severe reactions.

However, promising treatment options are undergoing advanced clinical trials. Gupta emphasizes the importance of early diagnosis, proper management plans, and access to these new treatments to prevent the exacerbation of existing disparities.

Read more here: The Importance Of Healing Your Gut: 7 Habits That Can Boost Your Gut Health

Share your thoughts on this thought-provoking news: Food allergies disproportionately affect people of color and those with lower incomes, as revealed by a recent study in JAMA. Comment below!

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