Millions of Britons falsely believe they have food allergies

Writes Max Pemberton:

The nation is in the grip of an epidemic, but one very different from those usually written about, such as obesity, diabetes and binge-drinking. What makes this epidemic unusual is that it is not an illness or condition in itself, but the false belief that something is wrong with you. This mass delusion affects millions of people in this country, and it’s getting worse. It’s food intolerance.

I should say from the outset that there are, of course, people who suffer from genuine food allergies, but what has come to light this month is how many people are labouring under the misapprehension that they are among the sufferers. One in five Britons now claims to have a food allergy or intolerance, with most stating wheat as the problem. That is an increase of 400 per cent in the past 20 years.

Years ago, sufferers of food allergies had to go to specialist shops and forgo meals out, but most supermarkets now have aisles dedicated to restricted diets, and packaging is carefully labelled. Restaurant menus detail hidden potential allergens and invite people to inform the chef of any special dietary requirements. For those with genuine allergies, this can be a lifesaver, but the pervasiveness shows how much food allergy has entered into the collective consciousness.

Continue reading Food intolerance: The new epidemic?


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