Characteristics and associated morbidities of young adults with misconceived food allergy: A cross-sectional study

Liat Nachshon, Naama Schwartz, Michael R. Goldberg, Yossi Schon, Michael Cheryomukhin, Yitzhak Katz, Arnon Elizur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many patients with self-reported food allergy are not allergic but suffer from similar burdens. We aimed to characterize young adults with misconceived food allergy. Methods: A cross-sectional study of individuals (n = 12,592) aged 17–18 years, recruited to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at a single urban-area recruitment center over a six month-period. All participants underwent a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation. Cognitive tests were performed and a Combined Intellectual-Education score assigned. Participants who reported food elimination due to allergy were skin-tested and underwent oral food challenges, when indicated. The characteristics, psychological evaluation and cognitive tests of individuals with no reported food allergy (n = 12,444), misconceived food allergy (n = 64) and true food allergy (n = 84) were compared. Findings: The prevalence of atopic co-morbidities was higher in recruits reporting compared to those not reporting food allergy while the rate of other co-morbidities was comparable. Anxiety disorder was diagnosed significantly more in individuals who reported food allergy (4·1%) compared to those who did not (1·7%) (p = 0·04). Further analysis revealed that this diagnosis was concentrated in individuals with misconceived (8/64, 12·5%) compared to true food allergy (2/84, 2·4%), (p = 0·02). Patients with misconceived food allergy were mostly of female sex, had lower Combined Intellectual-Education scores compared to patients with true (p = 0·001) and no reported food allergy (p = 0·01), and required the longest mean evaluation time (147·6 ± 109·4 days). Interpretation: Patients with misconceived food allergy have higher rates of anxiety disorder and are often from a lower educational level and of female sex. Medical and educational attention is required to improve care of this specific population. Funding: The research reported in this publication was supported by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Medical Corps and Directorate of Defense Research & Development, Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD DDR&D).

Original languageEnglish
Article number100766
StatePublished - Mar 2021


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