A food allergy is an immune response that occurs when the body identifies a food protein as dangerous and starts battling it by creating antibodies. This results in allergic reactions ranging from hives and itching to anaphylactic shock and death.
Food allergy statistics indicate that 250 million people globally suffer from at least one food allergy. In fact, food allergy incidents seem to be on the rise, which prompted us to collect the most important data about this life-threatening condition and help you prevent potentially serious health consequences.
Popular Food Allergy Statistics Worldwide for 2022 (Editor’s Choice)
- Globally, over 250 million people have food allergies.
- A peanut allergy affects 1 in 50 children in the UK.
- 9% of children in Australia have a food allergy.
- 8.2 million Americans have a shellfish allergy.
- 2% of US children are allergic to eggs.
- 60–80% of children with egg or milk allergies outgrow them by the age of 16.
- 40% of food-allergic children experience at least one severe reaction in their lives.
- A peanut allergy affects 1.2% of the US population.
General Food Allergy Statistics Worldwide
1. Food allergy cases have increased by 50% in the past decade.
Worldwide, there are more than 250 million people with food allergies. In Europe alone, 17 million people are suffering from food allergies. According to estimations, over 3% of adults and 6% of children have food allergies. Moreover, the number of hospitalizations due to anaphylaxis rose by a whopping 700% in the past decade.
2. 15% of food allergies are diagnosed during adulthood.
Some interesting facts about food allergies reveal that most allergies develop during childhood; yet, a small percent are first diagnosed in adulthood. Additionally, one in four adults says that all their allergies developed during adulthood, whereas nearly 50% say they developed at least one food allergy during their adult life.
3. If both parents have food allergies, a child is 50–80% likely to have them, too.
Food allergy facts reveal that a propensity to develop allergic disorders is largely genetically determined. A child whose both parents are allergic to food has a great chance to develop a certain food allergy. On the other hand, the genetic predisposition is 50% if only one parent has an allergic reaction to food.
4. A food allergy affects 7% of children in the UK.
Food allergy statistics reveal that children are more susceptible to food allergies now than ever before. Moreover, the rates have drastically increased in the past decades. In addition, 2% of adults have food allergies across Europe.
5. Food allergies are diagnosed in 9% of children in Australia.
The rise in food allergies has been most noticeable among one-year-old children. In fact, the latest numbers indicate that 9% of one-year-olds have an egg allergy, and 3% are allergic to peanuts.
6. 3 in 100 children in Australia suffer from a peanut allergy.
(Queensland Government, News Medical)
Peanut allergy statistics worldwide show that the prevalence of peanut allergy among children younger than 18 is 3%. That said, the prevalence of severe reaction is only 0.25%, and fatalities are very rare among children under five years. For example, in a study involving Tasmanian children, no one showed an allergic response to peanut protein.
7. The prevalence of food allergy among preschoolers in Thailand is only 1%.
Allergy statistics worldwide highlight a difference between the food allergy prevalence in Asia and the Western countries. For example, only 1% of pre-school children have a food allergy in Thailand. However, the rates are quite higher for Korean children (3.8%) and Chinese one- to two-year-olds (7.7%).
8. A peanut allergy affects 1 in 50 children in the United Kingdom.
Peanut allergy facts reveal that this type of food allergy affects about 2% of the childhood population in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, research shows that a peanut allergy is usually lifelong, with only one in five children outgrowing it by the age of 10. Another interesting fact is that 30–40% of the UK children allergic to peanuts are also allergic to one or more tree nuts.
Food Allergy Facts and Statistics for the US
9. In the US, 32 million people have food allergies.
A food allergy is one of the most common yet often overlooked diseases in the US. Out of the total number of people with food allergies, about 26 million (10.8%) are adults, whereas 5.6 million (7.6%) are children. What is more, 40% of food-allergic children are allergic to more than one type of food.
10. With 391%, Maine has the highest increase in food allergy-related claims.
Allergy statistics by the state suggest that the insurance claims for food allergies have gradually increased over the years. According to the latest numbers available, Maine has the highest increase in insurance claims related to food allergies, closely followed by North Carolina (332%) and California (316%). Furthermore, Delaware (314%) and New Hampshire (282%) round up the top five list.
11. Over 170 foods are reported to cause an allergic reaction.
Facts about food allergies show that a large number of foods can potentially cause an allergic reaction. That said, there are eight specific types of foods known to be responsible for more than 90% of allergic reactions—milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat, and fish. Therefore, the FDA requires food product labels to disclose explicitly any presence of these ingredients.
11. 8.2 million Americans are allergic to shellfish.
Allergy rates vary depending on the type of food. For example, studies on food allergies reveal that most Americans with allergy symptoms are allergic to shellfish. Furthermore, 6.1 million are allergic to milk, and another 6.1 million are allergic to peanuts.
Tree nuts (3.9 million), eggs (2.6 million), and wheat (2.4 million) are also some of the most frequent allergens. Finally, 1.9 million Americans are allergic to soy and 0.7 million to sesame.
12. The prevalence of chicken meat allergy is 0.6–5%.
Chicken allergy statistics show that reactions to chicken meat are rare. According to some surveys, people allergic to chicken can have either a meat-only allergy or a subset of the so-called “bird-egg syndrome,” including allergy to egg yolk and other bird allergens.
13. 60% of people allergic to shellfish reported experiencing first reactions as adults.
Some fun facts about allergies indicate that not all allergies occur in childhood. For example, a shellfish allergy usually arises during adulthood. In these cases, the allergy is highly likely to be lifelong. Allergy to crustaceans, involving shrimps, crabs, and lobster, also accounts for the highest number of allergic reactions that tend to be severe.
14. Peanuts account for 26% of private insurance claim lines with diagnoses of anaphylactic reactions.
Peanut allergy percentage of claim lines with anaphylactic food reaction is the second-highest. Furthermore, tree nuts and seeds account for 18% claim lines with anaphylactic food reactions, followed by eggs (7%), crustaceans (6%), and dairy allergies (5%).
According to FARE research, the most common group of foods identified to cause anaphylaxis is “other specific foods,” with 33%. This group includes foods that are uncommon to cause allergies and cases where the food allergen is not known.
15. The percentage of the population with a peanut allergy in the US is 1.2%.
A peanut allergy is one of the most common allergy types in the US. It is also one of the most common food allergies in children, affecting 2.5% of the pediatric population.
16. The prevalence of fish allergy in the US is 1%.
Approximately 40% of the people allergic to fish have their first reactions as adults. The most commonly reported allergic reactions are to salmon, catfish, tuna, and cod, fish allergy facts reveal.
17. 85 million Americans don’t buy foods that contain one of the top allergens.
They avoid purchasing the top nine allergens as they or someone in their household has a food allergy. Instead, this consumer group spends more than $19 billion a year buying specialty food free of allergens. As a result, allergy-friendly food experiences a 27% CAGR.
18. 53% of Americans want more transparent food allergen labeling.
Food allergy facts and stats from FARE research attest that about 71% of Americans spend between three and five minutes reading labels on each item before buying them. In addition, more than half of consumers participating in the survey said they would want to see more transparent and more consistent food allergen labeling on products in the future.
Food Allergy Facts for Kids in the US
19. About 2–3% of children younger than three have a milk allergy.
However, recent studies reveal that approximately one-fifth of children with milk allergy outgrow it by the time they are four years old. In addition, about 80% of the children are likely to outgrow this allergy by the age of 16.
20. Between 60% and 80% of children might outgrow certain food allergies by the age of 16.
However, allergies to other types of foods are harder to outgrow. For example, peanut allergies statistics reveal that 20% of children with peanut allergies will eventually outgrow it. Furthermore, evidence highlights that only 14% will outgrow a tree nut allergy, whereas the rate is significantly lower for shellfish and fish allergies—5% and 4%, respectively.
21. A tree nut allergy affects more than 2% of US children.
Tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews, are among the foods that cause severe allergic reactions. Additionally, as per the latest nut allergy statistics, about half of children allergic to one nut type are also allergic to another. This allergy is likely to be lifelong, with only 9% of children outgrowing it.
22. 2% of children are allergic to eggs.
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies among kids. However, about 70% of children allergic to eggs can tolerate baked eggs as heating disrupts the protein that causes the allergy. Eating baked eggs regularly can lead to tolerance and, ultimately, allergy resolution. It’s worth a try because eggs are full of vitamins and should be included in a diet.
23. Soy allergy affects almost 0.4% of US infants.
Food allergy statistics show that soy allergy impacts infants and young children more than older children. Children with soy allergies are more sensitive to other major allergens, including peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts, and sesame.
That said, they are likely to outgrow the soy allergy by the age of 3, with the majority outgrowing it by the age of 10. Last but not least, soy GMO allergy statistics indicate that soy allergic people are allergic to all types of soy, including genetically modified, non-GMO, and organic soy.
Food Allergy Risks and Prevention
24. The fatal outcome of anaphylaxis cases, including those induced by food allergies, is less than 1%.
In general, 5% of the food-allergic people in the US have suffered anaphylaxis. So, it is more common than you’d think. Luckily, food allergy death statistics reveal that the fatal outcome is rare. In fact, delayed administration of epinephrine is one of the most significant risk factors.
25. Each year, 200,000 people seek medical help due to food allergies.
Food allergies can be very dangerous, even life-threatening. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education study, someone ends up in the ER every three minutes due to experiencing an allergic reaction to food.
26. 40% of children allergic to food experience at least one severe reaction in their lives.
Out of the eight main allergens, peanuts are most likely to cause a severe reaction—59.2%. Moreover, when looking at allergies facts, the allergy percentage of adults with food allergies who experience one or more severe reactions is bigger than 50%.
27. A drug immunotherapy trial had positive results for 67% of participants with a peanut allergy.
The allergy shot success rate is still not determined, but a recent drug trial discovered that approximately two-thirds of peanut-allergic participants could consume two kernels of peanut after one year of therapy. On the other hand, this proved right for only 4% of the controlled group. Still, the allergy wasn’t completely gone.
28. The allergy immunotherapy success rate ranges from 30% to 90%.
Oral immunotherapy can successfully raise the threshold dose of food protein at which the allergy occurs. This therapy involves ingesting the allergen progressively under medical supervision. That said, this type of immunotherapy can have severe adverse reactions, including anaphylaxis.
29. Early exposure to peanuts might result in an 81% reduction in a peanut allergy among children.
A study including 600 children shows that 17% of those who strictly avoided peanut consumption until the age of five developed a peanut allergy. Peanut allergy statistics further show that only 3% of children who consumed peanuts developed an allergy.
Finally, the clinical trial concluded that early exposure to peanuts might reduce the allergy reactions by 81% in children with other food allergies or certain allergy-risk conditions like eczema.
Food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can manifest in a swollen throat, sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, airway constriction, and even death.
Unfortunately, the allergy shots success rate is low, and modern healthcare doesn’t provide any proven treatment that can completely prevent allergies or relieve symptoms. However, ongoing research for immunotherapy medications might help prevent severe attacks, which means the future is promising.
Hopefully, our stats have helped you learn the most important information regarding food allergies. That said, if you have a food allergy, talk to your doctor about symptoms to watch for, essential facts on the food allergy, and what to do in case of anaphylaxis.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A food allergy is a common occurrence in the United States. The latest numbers from the Food Allergy and Research Education organization reveal that 32 million Americans are allergic to food. Out of those, 10.8% (or 26 million) are adults, and 7.6% (or 5.6 million) are children. Most allergies usually develop during childhood; however, about 15% of people first experience reactions in adulthood.
About 1.1% of the general US population, which equals 3 million Americans, are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts. Moreover, a peanut allergy is one of the leading causes of severe or fatal food-induced reactions.
Furthermore, peanut and tree nut allergies are usually lifelong. A worrying fact is that the prevalence of these allergies seems to be growing, especially in children.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that is life-threatening. It appears after ingesting food to which you’re allergic, and the response happens pretty fast. Symptoms might include a swollen throat, airways constriction, dizziness, rapid pulse, severe drop in pressure, and loss of consciousness.
If left untreated, anaphylaxis can progress and cause coma or even death. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment, but you should also see a doctor immediately.
Some experts argue that one of the reasons is the improved hygiene level, as children aren’t getting as many infections (like parasitic infections) that are needed so that the immune system can fight. Another reason might be vitamin D deficiency. Experts agree that vitamin D helps the immune system develop a healthy response and makes people less prone to developing food allergies.
The rarest allergy in the world is an allergy to water. Also known as Aquagenic Urticaria, water allergy affects approximately one in 230 million people. This means there are only about 32 people with the condition globally.
It’s a rare condition that causes hives to break out whenever a person comes into contact with water. Currently, there isn’t an effective treatment for water allergy.
Food allergies are most likely to appear during childhood. An estimated 7.6% (or 5.6 million) of children in the US have a food allergy. That’s close to 1 in 13 students or 2 students per classroom on average.
Luckily, about 60–80% of children with allergies to milk or eggs will outgrow it by the age of 16. The rate is lower (20%) for children with a peanut allergy and those with a tree nut allergy (14%), food allergy statistics reveal.