Teenagers often mistakenly believe they have a food allergy or intolerance

Added on 07 Oct, 2005 . There are .

A study by the University of Portsmouth has found that 16% of 11 year olds, and 19% of 15 year olds steer clear of certain food groups.

Approximately 12% of each group claimed that they had an adverse reaction to certain foods, however the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology study found that actually only 2.3% in each group had a genuine allergy or intolerance.

The commonest claimed allergies or intolerances were wheat, dairy, peanuts and fish.

The study, carried out in conjunction with the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre, Isle of Wight, surveyed 757 11 year olds and 775 15 year olds, asking each child and their parents to complete a questionnaire about adverse reactions to foods eaten, the symptoms experienced and the foods that they avoided eating for this reason.

Each of the children were then given food challenge tests, where they have to eat the food that they say causes problems, and also skin prick tests.

Dr Dean, carrying out the survey said, "What this study suggests is that there is a public perception of an increase in FHS, which is not borne out by objective clinical assessment." [Note: FHS is the abbreviation for Food Hypersensitivity Syndrome, and is used when discussing both intolerances and allergies.]

Missing out on major food groups at any age is a dangerous dietary course to take unless absolutely necessary, but missing out on major food groups during adolescence can create major health issues and problems in later years.

Muriel Simmons, Allergy UK confirmed that "A lot of people - whether young or not - talk about allergies or intolerances. But only 2% have got a food allergy." Adding that "Allergy is a big problem for some people. Our concern is that if the world and his wife say they have an allergy, those who really do will find it increasingly hard to be taken seriously."