Prevalence and Predictors of Food Allergy in Canada: A Focus on Vulnerable Populations Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • BACKGROUND: Studies suggest that individuals of low education and/or income, new Canadians (immigrated <10 years ago), and individuals of Aboriginal identity may have fewer food allergies than the general population. However, given the difficulty in recruiting such populations (hereafter referred to as vulnerable populations), by using conventional survey methodologies, the prevalence of food allergy among these populations in Canada has not been estimated. OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence of food allergy among vulnerable populations in Canada, to compare with the nonvulnerable populations and to identify demographic characteristics predictive of food allergy. METHODS: By using 2006 Canadian Census data, postal codes with high proportions of vulnerable populations were identified and households were randomly selected to participate in a telephone survey. Information on food allergies and demographics was collected. Prevalence estimates were weighted by using Census data to account for the targeted sampling. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify predictors of food allergy. RESULTS: Of 12,762 eligible households contacted, 5734 households completed the questionnaire (45% response rate). Food allergy was less common among adults without postsecondary education versus those with postsecondary education (6.4% [95% CI, 5.5%-7.3%] vs 8.9% [95% CI, 7.7%-10%]) and new Canadians versus those born in Canada (3.2% [95% CI, 2.2%-4.3%] vs 8.2% [95% CI, 7.4%-9.1%]). There was no difference in prevalence between those of low and of high income or those with and without Aboriginal identity. CONCLUSION: Analysis of our data suggests that individuals of low education and new Canadians self-report fewer allergies, which may be due to genetics, environment, lack of appropriate health care, or lack of awareness of allergies, which reduces self-report.

authors

  • Soller, Lianne
  • Ben-Shoshan, Moshe
  • Harrington, Daniel W
  • Knoll, Megan
  • Fragapane, Joseph
  • Joseph, Lawrence
  • St. Pierre, Yvan
  • La Vieille, Sebastien
  • Wilson, Kathi
  • Elliott, Susan
  • Clarke, Ann E

publication date

  • January 2015