Food Allergies Around the World

Rice Allergy in Japan
I continue to be fascinated by the differing degrees of food allergy among various countries and ethnicities. It seems like there must be some clues to the food allergy puzzle in the studies that reveal food allergy differences among groups of people.

Take a look at this map:

 
(Map from Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology, August 2009 Vol 22, No. 3)


While there are many commonalities, why is buckwheat a big allergen in China or why is beef a big one in Chile'?

Just this week, research was published that shows a higher rate of food allergy among Israeli adolescents compared to Britain teens. According to a recent study conducted by the Rabin Medical Center allergy clinic, 3.6 percent of Israeli teens have a food allergy, compared with 2.6 percent of British teens. Milk is the most common allergy among adolescents in Israel. Peanut allergy in Israel is lower than that of the rate in the US, but higher than the rate in Singapore and the Philippines.It's also interesting that Arab adolescents are 40 percent less likely to be allergic to milk than their Jewish counterparts, but Arab teens in Israel are much more likely to be allergic to eggs, peanuts and sesame.

What is the thread that connects people with food allergies and what are the boundary lines that separate them?

Aahh...if we could answer that question, I suspect we may be well on our way to solving the puzzle.


A decade ago, I remember reading that while peanut allergy was common in the US, it was very uncommon in Japan. Conversely, rice allergy, almost unheard of in the US, was then a common food allergy in Japan. We also know that fish allergy is more common in countries where fish consumption is high, like Scandinavia and Norway.

White Album Puzzle
This all gets even trickier when study results show that there are different patterns to food allergy in different parts of the world. people in different countries, react to different parts of proteins in foods like peanuts. 

This is like the The Beatles- White Album puzzle. Highly challenging, but not impossible. Here's hoping we see more international studies to help put the pieces together.
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