Restrictive allergy diets leading to malnutrition in children, scientists claim

Middle-class children are increasingly at risk from malnutrition as result of being placed on restrictive allergy-diets by well-intentioned but misinformed parents.

That’s the warning from the head of the controversial group Sense About Science, Tracey Brown.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival last week, Brown said: “It’s a really strange phenomenon that, in the UK, we see the rise of conditions in children that indicate malnutrition in classes of people in society where you wouldn’t accept it. Parents are cutting out major food groups in their children, which is causing malnutrition in socioeconomic groups A to C. That’ a really worrying situation.”

Brown claimed that concern about allergy outstripped the clinical existence of it. “You see varying rates of allergies between countries. We’ve seen a tenfold increase of allergies, but some of it is self-reported”.

One of the contributors to a new Sense About Science guide (Making Sense of Allergies), Paul Seddon, consultant paediatric allergist at Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, said: “”I commonly see children who’ve been put onto unnecessarily restricted diets because their parents assume, in good faith, that they have allergies to multiple foods on the basis of ‘allergy tests’ which have no scientific basis.”