Telegraph e-paper

Food allergies are on course to hit majority

By Matthew Watts

A RISE in food allergies could lead to 70 per cent of the UK population being affected by 2060, a leading scientist has warned.

It is estimated that 1 to 2 per cent of adults and 5 to 8 per cent of children have a food allergy – about two to three million people – with cow’s milk, egg and peanut among the most common.

Sir Stephen Holgate, a clinical professor at the University of Southampton, warned that the number of people affected could reach 52 million in under 40 years without intervention.

Speaking at the British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) Global Allergy Symposium, he called for action to tackle the causes and develop preventative treatments.

“One in three people in the UK now has an allergy, which range across food and drug allergies to asthma and eczema and the numbers continue to rise,” he said.

“Between two to three million people in the UK are living with food allergies and hospital admissions for the life-threatening reaction anaphylaxis caused by food allergies have tripled over the past 20 years.

“Following current trajectory, 70 per cent of the UK population could have food allergies by 2060 and this would be terribly problematic.” Prof Holgate said research showed that a loss of biodiversity – the different kinds of life in an area including animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms like bacteria – was driving the rise.

He cited a study involving 1,300 German children published last summer, which revealed that those who were brought up on farms were protected against allergies.

“Where humans come into close contact with animals, the farm environment can protect against the development of allergy, especially if this exposure occurs in early life,” he said. “High exposure to non-disease-causing environmental microbes leads to protection against the early development of allergic disease.”





Daily Telegraph