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Allergy Basics

Food Allergy Prevalence

Food allergy is on the rise in North America and other developed countries. In Canada, an estimated 7.5 per cent of people have food allergies, representing more than 2.5 million people. In the United States it’s estimated that 12 million Americans (or just under 4 per cent of the population) have food allergies.

A major study in the United States recently found that cases of peanut allergy in children more than tripled in a decade (between 1997 and 2008), and that more than 3 million Americans now have a peanut or nut allergy.

Here are the rates of some of the major allergens in Canada and the U.S.

CANADA

Allergen Children Adults All
Peanut 1.68 % 0.71 % 0.93 %
Tree Nut 1.59 % 1 % 1.14 %
Shellfish 0.5 % 1.69 % 1.42 %
Fish 0.18 % 0.56 % 0.48 %
Sesame 0.23 % 0.05 % 0.09 %

Source: Surveying Canadians to Assess the Prevalence of Common Food Allergies and Attitudes towards Food Labelling and Risk (SCAAALAR) study. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, June 2010.

UNITED STATES

Allergen Children
Peanut 1.4%
Tree Nut 1.1%
Sesame 0.1%

Peanut, Tree Nut or both:
Children -  2.1 %
Adults – 1.3 %

Source: US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11-year follow-up. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, June 2010.

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