More Urban Kids Have Food Allergies

By Dana Shultz for Diets In Review

Food allergies are becoming increasingly common in our society with floods of children and adults discovering they have a food allergy or intolerance they never even knew existed. Just last week I was talking with two of my friends who’d both been given a similar diagnosis and were forced to go completely gluten-free. But while we know these types of allergies are becoming more common, few people think to wonder why as well as if there’s a rhyme and reason to whom they affect.

A new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics has presented some interesting new findings that suggest food allergies strike more often in certain areas than others, specifically when it comes to more densely-populated areas.

The study’s aim was to get a snapshot of the distribution of children’s food allergies in the U.S. to better determine where most sufferers are and what they have in common. Food allergies have become a growing and serious problem in our country affecting more than 8 percent of children in the U.S. This rate has grown by at least 18 percent in the last 10 years, and perhaps more concerning is that 40 percent of children suffering from food allergies have reported a history of severe reactions ranging from unstable blood pressure to anaphylactic shock.

To gather the data, researchers issued a randomized survey between June 2009 and February 2010 to adults with at least one child younger than 18 years old. Of the more than 40,000 participants who responded, researchers asked questions (developed by pediatricians, pediatric allergists and health service researchers) to gauge the number of child food allergies there were, including the “date of onset, method of diagnoses, and reaction history for each allergen.”

Scientists believed this detailed analysis of children’s food allergies would lend some insight into how allergies have dispersed throughout the U.S. and why.

Data revealed that the odds of food allergies were significantly higher in more densely-populated areas as compared to rural areas and small towns. Rates varied significantly from almost 10 percent prevalence in urban centers to only 6 percent in rural areas. The study also found that the most common food allergy was for peanuts, and milk and soy were two of the most consistent allergies throughout the various demographic areas.

One explanation for a higher prevalence of food allergies in urban areas is that exposure to certain “microbial agents’” or agitants earlier in life may somehow protect a child from developing food allergies later in life. Kind of the same argument for people who use sanitizers too much on their hands and become more susceptible to getting sick as it weakens their immune system. Either way, the association between food allergy prevalence steadily rose as population density rose as well, which makes it clear rural kids are far less likely to suffer from an allergies than their city-dwelling counterparts.

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source: Scientific American

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Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago


Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago


a             y m.
g d c.3 years ago


Marie W.
Marie W.3 years ago

Too much junk food, chemicals and pampering.

Sam M.
Sam E M.3 years ago

If they ate pure wholesome natural food without pesticides or additives of any kind they probably wouldn't be so sensitized and there would be less allergies. Industrially prepared food is usually anything but the above.

Kathleen Cazander


Laura S.
Laura S.3 years ago

My personal theory is that the mother's food choices during pregnancy have a lot to do with a child's food preferences and tolerance levels. Those women who can, and do, eat a a more diverse diet are exposing their babies to those same foods. The earlier the exposure, the lesser the chance of an allergy.

Anyway, it's just my own theory.

Anne G.
Anne G.3 years ago

I always think people in cities are more apt to use hand sanitisers and be pickier about dirt. I grew up in the suburbs, we ate dirt, played in woods, streams and no one I knew was allergic to any kind of food. Always makes me wonder where all these peanut allergies came from, this article still didn't really help, oh well.

Laura H.
Laura H.3 years ago

Something this study did not explore was the food choices available rural vs. urban. Perhaps early exposure to horrendous food choices i.e. McDonalds, Burger King, etc. has a lot to do with it.

Christine C.
Christine C.3 years ago