New evidence unveiled this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows that children with food allergies are not consuming the recommended number of servings of vital foods. In particular, the research said, an alternative to dairy foods needed to be found in order to ensure the correct intake of calcium and vitamin D.
Lynn Christie and colleagues from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences evaluated the diets of children with one or more food allergies. Thirty-four children aged one to nine and with a known food allergy were recruited for the study. The children completed a short questionnaire and were instructed on how to record a three-day dietary intake record.
The dietary intake record was converted into number of servings in each food group based on the United States Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid. The alternative foods for children with food allergies were distributed in the appropriate food groups. The data was analysed for meeting more than 67 per cent of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorous and zinc.
Researchers found that a significant number of children were not receiving the recommended servings for each food group. Some 41 per cent of the children questioned were not receiving sufficient amounts of dairy products, while the figure rose to 65 per cent for meat, 71 per cent for fruit, 74 per cent for grain and a massive 82 per cent for vegetables.
Children were also falling far short of the RDA for vitamins and minerals. Twenty-four per cent of those questioned were not receiving enough calcium, 18 per cent did not have enough iron, 15 per cent consumed insufficient amounts of phosphorus and 3 per cent and 6 percent respectively failed to consume enough riboflavin or thiamine. For vitamins A, C, D and E the figures were 18, 21, 79 and 65 per cent respectively.
When individual food groups were compared to their primary nutrients, inadequate servings from the dairy group were consistent with deficiencies of calcium and phosphorus. Other food groups did not reflect an inadequacy for the corresponding nutrients as identified by computerised analysis of dietary intake.Emphasis needs to be given to the milk allergic children so they receive adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D, researchers concluded.