International prevalences of reported food allergies and intolerances. Comparisons arising from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) 1991-1994
Woods, RK and Abramson, M and Bailey, M and Walters, EH, International prevalences of reported food allergies and intolerances. Comparisons arising from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) 1991-1994, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 55, (4) pp. 298-304. ISSN 0954-3007 (2001) [Refereed Article]
Objective: The aim of this study was to report the prevalence, type and reported symptoms associated with food intolerance. Design: A cross-sectional epidemiological study involving 15 countries using standardized methodology. Participants answered a detailed interviewer-administered questionnaire and took part in blood, lung function and skin prick tests to common aeroallergens. Setting: Randomly selected adults who took part in the second phase of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS). Subjects: The subjects were 17 280 adults aged 20-44y. Results: Twelve percent of respondents reported food allergy/intolerance (range 4.6% in Spain to 19.1% in Australia). Atopic females who had wheezed in the past 12 months, ever had asthma or were currently taking oral asthma medications were significantly more likely to report food allergy/intolerance. Participants from Scandinavia or Germany were significantly more likely than those from Spain to report food allergy/intolerance. Respondents who reported breathlessness as a food-related symptom were more likely to have wheezed in the past 12 months, to have asthma, use oral asthma medications, be atopic, have bronchial hyperreactivity, be older and reside in Scandinavia. Conclusion: Self-reported food allergy/intolerance differed significantly across multiple countries. The reasons for these differences were not explored in this study, but are likely to be largely due to cultural differences.