At a recent family gathering, one of my cousins was trying some breakfast cookies I had made. I was telling her the recipe, “Yeah, they have oats and cranberries — and walnuts.”
She immediately spit the food into her hand. I had forgotten, because I’m such a great cousin, that she was allergic to walnuts.
If you know someone with a food allergy, you’ve probably seen them spit out their food. Thankfully, there’s a growing awareness about food allergies.
A recent study looked at the economic impact of food allergies in children. The study estimates that almost $25 billion each year — that’s more than three times the entire Oklahoma state budget — is spent on medical, out-of-pocket, lost work productivity and other expenses associated with childhood food allergies.
Study estimates economic impact of childhood food allergies
The overall cost of childhood food allergies was estimated at nearly $25 billion annually in a study of caregivers that quantified medical, out-of-pocket, lost work productivity and other expenses, according to a report published by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication.
Food allergy is a growing public health issue in the United States that affects about 8 percent of children. The condition results in significant medical costs to the health care system but also inflicts substantial costs on families, including special diets and allergen-free foods, according to the study.
Ruchi Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and colleagues, surveyed 1,643 caregivers of a child with a food allergy. The most common food allergies were peanut (28.7 percent), milk (22.3 percent) and shellfish (18.6 percent).
Overall food allergy costs were $24.8 billion annually or $4,184 per child, according to the results. Total costs included $4.3 billion in direct medical costs and $20.5 billion in annual costs to families.
Caregivers estimated that hospitalizations accounted for the largest proportion of direct medical costs ($1.9 billion), followed by outpatient visits to allergists ($819 million), emergency department visits ($764 million) and pediatrician visits ($543 million). Special diets and allergen-free foods were estimated to cost $1.7 billion annually, while annual lost labor productivity so caregivers could accompany their children to medical visits was $773 million, according to the results.
“In summary, childhood food allergy in the United States places a considerable economic burden on families and society. … Given these findings, research to develop an effective food allergy treatment and cure is critically needed,” the study concludes.
Trim away a bit of stubborn flab every day, never eating these 2 foods.