Fixated on your food or nutty about nutrition?
According to a DN study by DNAFit, which has defined the nutrichondria condition, almost half the adult population say they have a food allergy or intolerance, yet just 15% have had this medically confirmed. For the remaining 30%, their self-diagnosis could have a drastic impact on everything from their wellbeing, relationships and bank balance.
The age of intolerance
In recent years, it has become increasingly common for people to declare and self-diagnose an intolerance and change their diet accordingly. The study found that one in three Brits believe they’re lactose intolerant and one-in-four intolerant to gluten – yet only 5% have had medical diagnoses for either condition.
The reasons for a self-diagnosis? It’s mixed, varied and rarely scientific. The cause for over a fifth of people is identifying with a celebrity who has exhibited similar symptoms followed by receiving advice from a friend or family member, reading an article about intolerance, sudden weight gain or because of an influencer on social media.
Who is at risk?
According to the study it is the 25-34 age group who are most likely to suffer from Nutrichondria. A huge 57% of people in that age category believe they have an intolerance or allergy at some point, compared to just 28% for those aged over 55.
Over half also said they would consider following a gluten-free diet even if they weren’t diagnosed with any medical reasons to do so. Yet this would mean cutting out wheat and grains that are proven to have cardiovascular benefits and avoiding popular, social food and drink such as bread, pasta and beer, whilst also paying up to 17% more for gluten-free alternatives.
Remarkably the study also revealed that 7% of young Brits aged 16-24 now refuse to eat vegetables in the belief that they are intolerant to them, despite no medical diagnoses.
What is the impact?
Nutrichondria comes at another price: friendship and relationships. Some admitted they would decline an invite to dine with someone who had a self-imposed food allergy and almost half have at some point had a meal they prepared snubbed by someone who had self-diagnosed a food allergy.
Indeed, case studies undertaken alongside the report found some participants that had omitted a food group from their lives for over 20 years, only to find they didn’t suffer from their suspected intolerance at all.
What is the solution?
To help the UK population better understand their bodies to ensure accurate diagnosis. 75% of people said they would consider taking a home test to find out what food they should be eating or avoiding.