Food Allergy and Public Health
Today, it is widely acknowledged that food allergies are a significant and growing public health problem in the U.S. and other developed countries. This understanding of the disease is due, in large part, to the work of epidemiologists – researchers who focus on the causes and distribution of diseases in human populations. Epidemiological studies provide vital clues that help scientists and public health officials to prevent and control disease. (For example, epidemiologists discovered the link between smoking and cancer.)
Epidemiologists researchers focus on provide important data about who gets food allergies and the possible role of such factors as diet, hygiene, geography, ethnicity, and much more. Epidemiologists’ findings provide new avenues for other researchers – such as immunologists and geneticists – to explore. Finally, because these studies provide powerful evidence of the growth and impact of food allergies, they also help advocates make a strong case for laws and policies that create safer environments for people with food allergies, and for federal funding for research.