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Assessing the
Prevalence
of Adult Food Allergies


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A JAMA article on adult food allergies is the first peer-reviewed publication to be based on NORC’s pioneering methodology that leverages the scientific rigor of the AmeriSpeak Panel sample and the scale of nonprobability online panel samples.

Michael Dennis, SVP & Executive Director
AmeriSpeak

Food allergies are a debilitating and sometimes life-threatening condition. But while there has been significant research into childhood food allergies, little was known about their prevalence or severity among adults. Researchers at Northwestern University and Stanford University turned to NORC to help them fill this gap in the data. NORC collected more than 40,000 interviews with U.S. adults, with more than 7,000 interviews from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel sample and the remainder from nonprobability online sample. Augmenting the AmeriSpeak data with calibrated-weighted, nonprobability interviews improved the statistical precision of estimates for the prevalence of rare allergies within specific age groups and key subpopulations.

Almost 20% of survey respondents thought they had a food allergy. But when the investigators dug into people’s symptoms, they found that only 11% reported “convincing” signs of a true allergy.

This suggests the importance of having a doctor confirm a self-diagnosed food allergy. The study also found a correlation between food allergies and other allergens and medical conditions.