Food Intolerance Is All in Your Head

According to a recent survey, millions of Brits have a self-diagnosed food intolerance, and they blame celebrities:

Nearly 40% of the 1,500 people polled by Yorktest thought it trendy to be intolerant and many blamed celebrities.

Actress Rachel Weisz for instance has a well-publicised wheat intolerance, TV presenter Carol Vorderman a gluten one, and Rod Stewart’s former wife, Rachel Hunter, a lactose intolerance.

The article goes on to say that of the 12 million UK trendsetters who claim to be intolerant, less than a quarter have had their condition “formally diagnosed.” In other words, the headline implies, these people’s food intolerances may be imaginary.

The Daily Mail, with typical snarkiness, leaps on the story as an excuse to complain about picky eaters who accept invitations to dinner and then offer up a list of things they can’t eat. The horror!

This pooh-poohing of food intolerances recalls the “gluten intolerance is trendy” story the New York Times ran back in May, which included the quote, “A lot of alternative practitioners like chiropractors have picked up on it and are waving around magic silver balls, crystals and such, telling people they have gluten intolerance.”

Meanwhile, the real story is that many intolerances, including celiac, are seriously underdiagnosed. So why run a story about imaginary food intolerances? Turns out that Yorktest, the company that conducted the poll, sells food-allergy testing kits.

A spokesman for Yorktest says, ingenuously, “Food intolerances are on the increase, but it’s worrying to think that many sufferers have never actually been tested or diagnosed. There is a surprisingly diverse range of foods which people are now intolerant to.”

Yes, and it’s all Rachel Weisz’s fault!

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