HEALTH tests available at private clinics and high street shops, including Holland & Barrett, are misleading consumers by convincing them they have “allergies” that may not exist.
A Sunday Times investigation has found that people are needlessly being told to cut out dozens of products, including oranges, sugar and white wine, after taking so-called food intolerance tests costing up to £265. Critics say the tests — some of which are available over the internet — are trading on people’s obsession with their diet.
Some doctors now believe the tests could do more harm than good and have seen several patients suffering from serious illnesses, such as rickets, because they have been advised to give up so many foodstuffs.
A healthy undercover reporter took part in seven common tests over a fortnight. In one, a consultant connected the reporter’s hands and feet to an electrical circuit to see how she reacted to various foods. At the start of each test the reporter — who had been found to be allergy-free by a specialist — complained of occasional tiredness and feeling bloated after eating.
At a branch of Holland & Barrett near Charing Cross station in central London, the reporter was checked for food sensitivities in a “Vega” test costing £49. She was asked to grip a metal cylinder wired to a meter while a metal rod was pressed against the fingers of her other hand. Tiny phials of food were held next to the meter to test for a reaction.
The consultant said the reporter was “intolerant” to sugar, oranges and wheat-based products, such as bread and pasta, and recommended abstaining from these foods for at least a month. The consultant pointed out that Holland & Barrett stocked many wheat-free products, although she said similar foods could also be bought elsewhere.