Are Minorities Free From Food Allergies?

Sloane Miller Health Guide
  • I've often wondered about this, both statistically speaking and in the real world: when it comes to food allergies, where are the minorities? Through my Allergic Girl blog I can only recall two emails that I've received from people identifying as African-American who stated that they have food allergies and read my blog. Several members of my Worry-Free Dinners club are minorities but that is out of hundreds of members, they are literally the minority. So where is everyone else? Where is the Latino community, the Asian population, the South Asians? Are they quietly being allergic? Are they ignoring their food allergy symptoms? Or are they not allergic at all?

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    The Los Angeles Times Op Ed writer Joel Stein thinks the nut allergies are a symptom of white, rich, upwardly mobile folks i.e. yuppiedom.


    "...But we [Stein and Dr. Christakis] did agree that it is strange how peanut allergies are only an issue in rich, lefty communities.

    "We don't see this problem much in African American or poor communities. So there's something going on here. We don't see them in Ecuador and Guatemala," Christakis said.

    A study of Jews of similar demographics and genetics in Britain and Israel found that British kids were 10 times more likely to have peanut allergies than Israelis. That's probably because Israeli kids have other things to be afraid of."


    This, I think, is the only valid question in an otherwise highly  questionable op/ed piece. I know that there are allergies in these communities but I don't know why they are so quiet. For example, I know Israelis are allergic and have celiac disease. Many of my kosher Worry-Free Dinners memebers tell me that they have the best gluten-free foods in Israel.


    I was able to uncover only three recent studies that have examined the issue of food allergy in minority populations.  And I found some statistical data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 2000-2005 that show some general rates of food allergy, by race. 




    Food Allergy

    0-17 years













    Multiple race






    Puerto Rican






    Non-Hispanic White



    Non-Hispanic Black








    According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, six percent of allergy sufferers have food allergies.


    So the most striking aspect of these three studies is the lack of information available as of now. And the lack of data leaves me still curious as to where are the food allergic within the minorities population and how are they managing with food allergies?

Published On: January 13, 2009