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Food allergies most prevalent in women

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia). Base: Australians aged 14+ (January–December 2009): n= 18,916.

A new study utilising the Roy Morgan Health Care Monitor has identified that food allergies are more prevalent then previously thought. There are approximately 836,000 people in Australia who report suffering from food allergies, and women are more likely to be affected than men.

In the 12 months to December 2009, 4.7% of Australians aged 14+ (approximately 836,000) reported suffering from food allergies in the previous 12 months. Women (6.5%), and younger people (6.6% of those under 25), report disproportionally higher rates of food allergies than the average person aged 14+.

Food Allergies by Age/Sex

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia).  Base: Australians aged 14+ (January—December 2009): n= 18,916.

Women are more than twice as likely to report food allergies. While 6.4% of women 14+ reported suffering from food allergies, only 2.9% of men 14+ reported suffering from food allergies.

Richard Vantuno, Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The higher prevalence of older and lower socio-economic profiles associated with many medical conditions is not the case when it comes to food allergies. Those reporting suffering from food allergies in the last 12 months are younger, better educated, and more affluent than the average person 14+.

“Attitudes of food allergy sufferers’ reflect an awareness of the foods they eat and those they avoid.  Those people reporting food allergies are much more likely to agree with the statements ‘Milk/dairy products do not agree with me’, and ‘I avoid dairy food whenever possible’ compared to the average Australian 14+.  They are also much more likely to buy drinks from juice bars, buy organic foods and avoid drinks with caffeine than the average person 14+.  Conversely, this group is less likely to agree with the statement ‘I seldom have time for breakfast’, ‘I would rather clean than cook any day’ and ‘threats to the environment are exaggerated’, reflecting the younger, more progressive demographic.

“ASCIA (Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) reports about 1 in 100 adults suffer from food allergies. but the Roy Morgan survey found  twice as many respondents had reported food allergies.  This suggests a large number of sufferers are managing their condition without reporting it to their health care professionals, or assume a broader definition of food allergy than official reports.  It does, however, indicate a larger health issue within the community than generally acknowledged; and an opportunity for food companies to create specialist ranges for these food conscious people.

“This exciting new series of health studies by Roy Morgan provides an understanding of a respondent’s illnesses or use of medicines, which, when combined with a view of their associated risk factors, becomes extremely valuable.  Roy Morgan Single Source takes it even further by providing in-depth insights into respondents’ behaviour and attitudes.”