I am an avid reader of The Week and particularly addicted to the snippets on page 6 which include ‘Poll Watch’ – this week devoted to our misconceptions. Mind you, their figures were taken from Ipsos Mori and Telepraph blogs so maybe the latter need to be taken with a little grain of salt.
• 51% of us think that violent crime is rising whereas in fact it has fallen steadily since 2006.
•29% of us think we spend more on Jobseekers allowance than on pensions. In fact we spend £4.9bn on jobseekers and a whacking £74.2bn on pensioners.
• We think that £24 in every £100 is lost to benefit fraud whereas in fact it is 70p in every £100.
• We think that 15% of girls under 16 get pregnant every year whereas the figure is 0.6%.
• We think that 31% of the population are immigrants; in fact only 13% are.
However, straight after reading Poll Watch, I read the press release issued by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) and the World Allergy Organisation after their massive meeting in Milan in June which, together with a May report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gives some concrete figures for the prevalence of allergy which may be significantly higher than many realise – especially health professionals with little experience of allergy. For example:
• More than 30% 0f the world’s population is now being affected by allergy. (EAACI-WAO)
• Worldwide, around 250 million people are estimated to suffer from food allergies. (EAACI-WAO)
• In developed countries, 20% of the population suffer from asthma or allergy. (EAACI-WAO)
• The most rapid increase in the incidence of allergy is seen in developing countries. (EAACI-WAO)
• The sharpest increase in allergy is observed in children who suffer mainly from food or respiratory allergies. (EAACI-WAO)
• Among children from 0–17 the prevalence of food allergies increased from 3.4% in 1999 to 5.1% in 2011. (CDC)
• Among children from 0–17 the prevalence of skin allergies increased from 7.4% in 1999 to 12.5% in 2011. (CDC)
• The figure for respiratory allergy for this age group, however, remained stable during this period at 17% . (CDC)
• While skin allergy prevalence decreased with the increase of age (14.2% among 0–4 years, 13.1% among 5–9 years, and 10.9% among 10–17 years), respiratory allergy prevalence increased with the increase of age (10.8% among 0–4 years, 17.4% among 5–9 years, and 20.8% among 10–17 years) (CDC)
Some interesting racial differences too – bearing in mind that the CDC data comes from the US:
• Hispanic children had a lower prevalence of food allergy (3.6%), skin allergy (10.1%), and respiratory allergy (13.0%) compared with non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black children. (CDC)
• Non-Hispanic black children had a higher percentage of reported skin allergy (17.4%) compared with non-Hispanic white children (12.0%) and a lower percentage of respiratory allergy (15.6%) compared with non-Hispanic white children (19.1%) (CDC)
And finally, the relevance of income:
The prevalence of both food allergy and respiratory allergy increased with the increase of income level.
• Among children with family income less than 100% of the poverty level, 4.4% had a food allergy and 14.9% had a respiratory allergy.
• Among children with a family income between 100% and 200% of the poverty level, 5.0% had a food allergy and 15.8% had a respiratory allergy.
• Among children with family income above 200% of the poverty level, 5.4% had a food allergy, and 18.3% had a respiratory allergy.
• There was no significant difference in the prevalence of skin allergy by poverty status.
In a sample of 38,500 children interviewed between June 2009 and February 2010
• 8% suffered from a food allergy.
• Of that 8%, 38% had had a severe reaction and 30% had multiple allergies.
• Among that 8%, 25% had peanut allergy, 21% milk allergy and 17% shellfish allergy
And, note well, the authors comment:
‘Odds of food allergy were significantly associated with race, age, income, and geographic region. Disparities in food allergy diagnosis according to race and income were observed’ which tallies with the CDC findings above.