KAREN BANASIAK

Food allergies affect 1 in 25 Americans
A study released at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual conference in March shows that food allergies are a much more pervasive health problem than once thought.

Conducted by the Food Allergy Initiative, Jaffe Family Foundation, and Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the research found that about 11 million Americans—or roughly 1 in 25—are now believed to be affected by one or more food allergies.

Ingestion or contact with certain foods can trigger allergic reactions, some of which can be life threatening. The study showed that peanut or tree nut allergies affected close to 3 million people and seafood allergies affected approximately 6.5 million people. Of those experiencing allergic reactions to fish and shellfish, 55% and 40%, respectively, sought treatment by a physician or in the emergency room. The other major food allergens reported in the study include milk, egg, wheat, and soy.

Ruby Tuesday to list nutrition information on menus
To help its customers make smarter eating decisions when eating out, Ruby Tuesday® Inc. in April began providing nutrition information on its menus, becoming the first casual-dining restaurant chain to do so. Based in Maryville, Tenn., the restaurant chain will provide the total calories, total grams of fat, net grams of carbohydrates, and total grams of dietary fiber for all its menu items, including appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The fast-food industry commonly provides nutrition information on wall posters or in brochures available at the establishments.

The restaurant will also provide a Smart Eating Guide to supplement its main menu. The guide will feature information about healthy eating and nutrition information and will remain on the table throughout the meal.

FAO says fight hunger today to reduce obesity tomorrow
Reducing hunger and undernourishment in children and pregnant women could prevent them from becoming overweight and obese and reduce associated health costs in later life, according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization study.

The study examines empirical evidence suggesting that hunger during pregnancy “programs” fetal tissues to get the most out of the food energy available, eventually leading to overnourishment in adult life when coupled with greater food availability and a more sedentary lifestyle. Many people in developing countries face this situation, and it could adversely affect their health.

The study found that because of rising prices for food, rising incomes, and increasing urbanization, diets of people living in many developing countries are approaching energy and protein intake levels that have been limited to people in developed countries.

The economic problems associated with this transition in nutrition will affect those in developing nations more strongly. Health-care cost may rise in these countries, and the study suggests that people who live in these countries will suffer from obesity-related diseases.

To view the report, visit www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/36847/index.html.

by KAREN BANASIAK
Assistant Editor
[email protected]