Obese Kids Have 59% More Food Allergies

Articles
May 21, 2009

Obese Kids Have 59% More Food Allergies

In reviewing data collected over the past 25 years, researchers noted both a rise in adolescent obesity and allergic disease rates- is this a coincidence or are the two conditions related? Currently 17% of adolescents are considered obese and 1 out of every 4 Americans suffers from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Researchers from two branches of the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) found the clues to the answer. Data from over 4,000 individuals aged 2-19 was analyzed, focusing specifically on blood plasma levels of allergen specific antibodies, body weight, and multiple choice type questionnaire, responses relating to hay fever, eczema and allergy. Obesity was defined as falling in the 95th percentile of BMI* for the specific age grouping. Findings indicate a positive association between incidence of obesity and allergy. Specifically, obese children are 26% more likely to have general allergies and 59% more likely to have food specific allergies. Researchers are hesitant to say that obesity causes allergies and feel that this study will trigger a series of investigations into the potential link. Given the almost exponential increase of both adolescent obesity and allergic disease, the research is of great importance, and has huge relevance in understanding, controlling, and possibly preventing these epidemics.

In reviewing data collected over the past 25 years, researchers noted both a rise in adolescent obesity and allergic disease rates- is this a coincidence or are the two conditions related?  Currently 17% of adolescents are considered obese and 1 out of every 4 Americans suffers from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  Researchers from two branches of the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) found the clues to the answer.

Data from over 4,000 individuals aged 2-19 was analyzed, focusing specifically on blood plasma levels of allergen specific antibodies, body weight, and multiple choice type questionnaire, responses relating to hay fever, eczema and allergy.  Obesity was defined as falling in the 95th percentile of BMI* for the specific age grouping.  Findings indicate a positive association between incidence of obesity and allergy.  Specifically, obese children are 26% more likely to have general allergies and 59% more likely to have food specific allergies.

Researchers are hesitant to say that obesity causes allergies and feel that this study will trigger a series of investigations into the potential link.  Given the almost exponential increase of both adolescent obesity and allergic disease, the research is of great importance, and has huge relevance in understanding, controlling, and possibly preventing these epidemics.  

The researchers reviewed data from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  A survey specifically designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States.  It is large in scale and scope and is thus nationally representative; a huge bonus for the generalizability of the findings.  A new component of the 05-06 NHANES, supported by the NIEHS, included questions relating to allergy and asthma.   

 
*Body Mass Index (BMI) is a reliable but general indicator of body fatness based on a person’s weight and height.  It is used widely in the public health and medical field to assess and determine your risk of weight related health problems.  Visit the CDC's website for more information and to calculate you own BMI!

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/index.html