Data published by NHS Digital has shown that the occurrence of anaphylactic shock in England, caused by adverse food reactions, increased from 1,362 in 2011-12 to 1,922 in 2016-17.
According to researchers in Italy, children with food allergies have higher levels of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) than their non-allergic peers. AGEs are naturally found in the body, but high levels are present in highly processed food. This has led to the assumption that junk food might be the driving force behind the rise of food allergies.
“They are consuming a lot of snacks, a lot of hamburgers, a lot of French fries, a lot of commercial foods full of AGEs,” says Roberto Berni Canani, lead researcher at the University of Naples.
However, the team’s research suggested that AGEs might also have a negative effect on the gut barrier. Canani pointed out that the rise in food allergies could be attributed to many other factors, including problems with the gut microbiome.
“I think this is a useful exploratory study that has generated an interesting theory,” adds Dr Andrew Clark, a consultant in paediatric allergy at Addenbrooke’s hospital. “It needs to be examined in large numbers of patients and in different populations.”