Delicious Living Blog

Food allergies cost $500 million: What’s your share?

by Elisa Maria Bosley
May 10, 2011

An estimated $500 million is spent annually in the U.S. on food-allergy-related medical care and indirect costs. But could the real amount be even higher?


In the first attempt to quantify the U.S. economic cost of food allergies, researchers recently reported that direct and indirect medical costs of food allergies total an estimated $500 million, according to a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and reported by Reuters. Visits to a doctor’s office made up the bulk of that price tag (52 percent, or $118 million), which also included emergency room care (20 percent, or $45 million), inpatient hospitalizations (12 percent), lost workdays, and even epi-pens.

According to the Reuters article, David Holdford, one of the study authors, notes: “We were surprised that physician visits were more than half of the costs. I think what’s happening is a lot of these (doctor) visits are not for acute visits,” but for helping patients manage or prevent food allergies.

I’m curious: Does that $500 million price tag include money spent on medical visits and procedures if you don’t have a true, life-threatening food allergy but if you “merely” suffer from a food intolerance? Before we traced my son’s ailments to gluten, we spent more than $3,500 on various doctors and tests; I know others have spent a lot more. His intolerance requires a similar, if not critical, level of food-avoidance diligence -- so it makes me wonder how high that price tag might actually be if all food-related reactions were included. And what about lost work productivity if you're self-employed or a student? I'm thinking the actual costs for this growing issue may be quite a bit higher. 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 11, 2011

I couldn't even begin to tell you how much we have spent ourselves. We realized our sons milk allergy at 2mo and didn't learn about the severity or the additional allergies until he was 11 months old. We were always at the doctors trying to figure out what was the matter and since that, we are still at the doctors often. In addition to that, there we are always purchasing over-the-counter allergy meds for home and the my purse, in addition to a steroid pill, inhalers (1 for home and travel), nebulizer meds (preventative and quick acting) and Epi-pens which have an expiration date. Then there are all the specialty foods (no milk, eggs, nuts) to add in the mix, and oh my goodness.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 11, 2011

I have a multitude of food intolerances-- I've spent a fortune on naturopath and holistic allergist fees (upwards of $2000 over a 2 yr period), herbs, plus the additional costs of gluten-free and dairy-free food products, which are easily double the cost of regular wheat and milk products. And before I discovered they were food-related problems, there were productivity and huge quality of life issues.

I feel so much better, but my diet is extremely restricted and costs a lot more than what most people are able to eat (or perhaps they're not... they just don't know what's bothering them is food related?).


on Dec 26, 2011

Food allergies are common, most of time food agency standards shows that 6 to 8% of children have a food allergy. It occurs after eating a certain food. So try to maintain a special diet plan. I think, it's a best treatment for food allergy.

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