Think You Have Food Allergies? You Probably Don’t

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A new study has shown that most people who think they have food allergies do not. The government-funded study, published in the May 12 Journal of the American Medical Association and organized by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, shows that while 30 percent of people believe they have food allergies, fewer than 5 percent actually do (in children, the percentage of sufferers is around 8 percent). AOL Health decided to take a closer look at the misdiagnosis of food allergies.

The study found that a combination of factors has led to the vast overestimation of food allergies. After looking at 72 food allergy studies published between January 1988 and September 2009, the researchers deduced that doctors commonly misdiagnosed allergies, that tests often gave foggy results and that studies on food allergies were often subpar (for example, the researchers waded through a pool of 12,000 published papers in order to choose the 72 rigorous studies that they ultimately used). In addition, people often incorrectly self-diagnose an allergy when they simply react badly to a food.