Adult Food Allergy Rates Skyrocket
Food reactions are on the rise, especially in adults who had never experienced food allergies before, and medical professionals are not sure why. Experts are concerned about the trend because these reactions often can’t be predicted, can be severe, and may involve rapid-onset, life-threatening anaphylaxis.
According to FAIR Health, an organization focused on transparency in healthcare costs and health insurance information, private insurance claims involving a diagnosis of anaphylactic food reaction jumped 377 percent from 2007 to 2016, and half of all adults with food allergies develop them after age 18. Peanuts are the most common food identified as causing anaphylaxis, accounting for 26 percent of claims, followed by tree nuts and seeds, at 18 percent, and shellfish, at 6 percent. “Other specific foods,” which typically means the food causing the reaction is unknown, accounted for 33 percent of the claims, rising 71 percent from 2007 to 2016.
Experts theorize that rates of adult food allergies are rising because we’re eating too much processed food, or that food allergies are related to vitamin D deficiency. Another theory is that a combination of factors, including a cleaner environment and a Western diet, alters gut bacteria, increasing the risk of food allergies.