Two reports came my way this week, neither of which make encouraging reading.
These show a rise of 27% in the number of people over 19 years of age admitted to hospital with anaphylaxis from 2019 to 2020 – a dramatically much faster rise than in the previous 5 years. (With thanks to the AC/NHS for the tables.)
Meanwhile, the number of patients over 19 admitted with allergies but not full blown anaphylaxis rose from 21,992 to 27,172, all but paralleling the rise in anaphylaxis admissions.
The only encouraging bit of news was that the number of under 18 year olds admitted with anaphylaxis has stabilised. (The 16-24 year old age group is recognised to be the most at risk from anaphylaxis as they move away from home and start to live, and manage their allergies, independently.)
The campaign can offer no definitive explanation of the rise but quotes
- Eating habits
- Early exposure to allergens
- Modern medicines, e.g. antibiotics
- Vitamin D deficiency and other dietary factors
as all being factors currently under consideration. More from the Anaphylaxis Campaign.
Broken Plate – Food Foundation Report
The second set of figures comes from a Food Foundation report published on Monday. The Food Foundation ‘is a charity working to influence food policy and business practice, shaping a sustainable food system which makes healthy diets affordable and accessible for all’.
You can read the full report here but the figures that stood out for me were:
Food Prices: a continuing divergence between the cost of healthy and unhealthy foods, with the average cost of more healthy foods in 2019 being £7.68 (per 1000 kilocalories) compared to £2.48 for less healthy food.
Affordability of a healthy diet: The poorest 20% of UK households would need to spend 39% of their disposable income after housing costs in order to afford a healthy diet in line with the Eatwell Guide.
Child Growth: Children in deprived communities are more than 1cm shorter on average than children in wealthy communities by the time they reach age 11.
Places to buy food: 45 local authorities in England have seen more than a 5% increase in the proportion of food outlets that are fast food takeaways. The report finds a strong correlation between the percentage of takeaway outlets and levels of deprivation in local authorities.
Children with obesity: There is no real change in levels of childhood obesity among children in Reception. These are twice as high in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived. These disparities are growing in England and Scotland. Wales, however, seem to be reversing this trend.
Products with too little veg: The report shows an improvement, with 24% of ready meals in 2020 being vegetarian or plant-based, marking a 33% increase since 2018. But worryingly, the report also highlights that plant-based ready meals are often more expensive than meat, fish or dairy alternatives.