As kids head back to school, they may be asking themselves plenty of questions. Will my locker combination work? Will I be able to find my classes before the bell rings? Will I have friends to sit with at lunch? But students with food allergies will have even more to worry about. They will need to avoid trigger foods in the cafeteria or at class parties. They may have to keep an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times, and, sadly, they may also have to fend off food allergy bullying.
School-age kids can sniff out differences in their peers and use them as an excuse to bully. Food allergies are frequently a target for this aggressive behavior. Here are some facts about food allergies and bullying:
- Food allergies affect nearly 6 million Americans under the age of 18. That rounds out to an average of two children per school classroom.
- According to a 2013 study, approximately 30 percent of kids ages eight to 17 have reported being bullied because of their food allergies.
- In nearly half of the incidents examined in this study, the kids did not tell their parents about the bullying.
Bullying often takes the form of food-related threats, which could be frightening to children and, if carried out, damaging to their health.
Knowledge is power, and a new initiative aims to reduce food allergy bullying by educating the public about it. Kaléo, a pharmaceutical company that targets life-threatening medical conditions for children, is leading the charge. They have teamed up with four national advocacy organizations to promote the initiative, including the Allergy & Asthma Network and Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
“While programs and resources have become available to address other forms of bullying, they rarely call attention to food allergy bullying, which can potentially be deadly,” said Tonya Winders, President and CEO, of the Allergy & Asthma Network.
The multi-year initiative aims to raise awareness of food allergy bullying and promote greater tolerance and understanding. The project will bring together middle and high school students to share experiences, provide support and generate solutions to the ongoing problem. You can learn more about the program at the No Appetite for Bullying website.
It used to be that if you suffered from food allergies, your only option was to avoid trigger foods. But a food allergy treatment program is now available in the form of sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT. SLIT works like allergy shots, desensitizing your body to allergens that once made you miserable. SLIT can be taken at home as under-the-tongue drops that absorb into the bloodstream. It is safer than shots and can be administered at home.
Ask AllergyEasy for more information about how your physician can prescribe sublingual immunotherapy for food allergies.