Nine in ten food allergy cases 'are all in the mind'

Nine in ten Britons who believe they have a food allergy or intolerance are perfectly healthy, researchers say.

Studies show that although 20 per cent of adults - around ten million - claim they are unable to eat foods from milk to mustard, fewer than 2 per cent actually have a problem.

Researchers from Portsmouth University found the discrepancy after reviewing studies into the prevalence of food allergies, which are caused by an over-reaction of the immune system, and intolerances, which have similar but less severe symptoms. They blamed internet searches, self-testing kits and celebrity food fads for the epidemic of make-believe allergies and intolerances.

As a result, they said millions are unnecessarily restricting their diets, starving themselves of their favourite foods - and of key nutrients. Others could be suffering from another medical problem which goes untreated because they believe their symptoms are caused by a particular food such as milk, eggs or wheat.

For instance, some may stop eating wheat when in fact they are suffering from a bowel condition called coeliac disease. If the complaint is not diagnosed or treated it can raise the risk of other health problems including brittle bones in old age.

Source - Daily Mail