Are Celebrities Giving Us Food Allergies?


Fame, fortune, and tree nuts.
Except for the richer/thinner/better-looking thing, celebrities are just like us. And just like us, they can have food allergies. Or think they do. The difference is that they talk about them on Entertainment Tonight and in the pages of People Magazine.
Now the medical community is wondering if the media attention is swelling the number of wrongly self-diagnosed food allergies in the rest of us.

According to WebMD:
Up to 15% of the U.S. population believe they have a food allergy.
The percentage of the people in the U.S. who actually have a food allergy is 3% to 4%.

Doctors believe that few patients know the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. When that patient is a celebrity, you have to add in rampant narcissism and a dose of hypochondria, and it’s all given legitimacy in the glare of the media spotlight. For us, there is a mirror effect that has us peering into celebrity lives with a desire to become part of their reality, even if it’s only through their dysfunction.

Big Deal? Actually, it is.
Millions of people are needlessly cutting whole food groups out of their diets, which can have health implications that can be more harmful than the allergies themselves. A recent study of girls aged between ten and 13, a group that is especially vulnerable to celebrity influences, found more than half who claimed to have sensitivities to milk had no problem whatsoever digesting it. The girls with the perceived intolerance had all cut back or eliminated milk from their diets, and with inadequate calcium, every one of them had an already significant drop in bone strength.

A true food allergy is a rather rare response of the immune system. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient as a harmful invader and creates antibodies to fight it. A food allergy is a potentially life-threatening condition.
The more common, but still vastly overstated food intolerance is a digestive system response to a food that irritates a person’s digestive tract. Nearly all of us have experienced some degree of food intolerance at some time in our lives. Unlike food allergies, the symptoms of food intolerance can bring misery but seldom pose a real health risk.

For breaking news of diagnoses, read

I don’t have a food allergy, but I play a food allergy sufferer on TV. You’ll find real and fictional food allergy sufferers at Angelfire’s Celebrity Sightings.

No Nuts, Please and Google Answers focus exclusively on celebrities with peanut allergies.


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One Response to Are Celebrities Giving Us Food Allergies?

  1. Unfortunately, many people have fallen victim to imagined allergies. Hopefully, this trend goes the way of many a celebrity career and fades away.

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