Cost of living with a food allergy is over £1,400 a year
The average cost of living with a food allergy for individuals and families in Northern Ireland is estimated to be over £1,400 per year, new research has revealed.
New safefood funded research into the cost of living with a food allergy or coeliac disease in Northern Ireland has estimated that the average cost burden for a child with a food allergy is £1,414 every year, and £1,259 for an adult.
The research looks for the first time ever at the socio-economic cost of living with a food hypersensitivity (food allergy, food intolerance and coeliac disease) on the island of Ireland.
These costs are primarily medical costs including hospital visits and stays, as well as the cost of missed days from work, school, or college, and the cost of travel associated with medical appointments.
The research led by teams at Queens University Belfast and the Technological University Dublin also found that 43% of the adult costs (£542) were borne by the individual themselves, with the remaining 57% being shared with the health service (£717).
The out-of-pocket costs incurred by parents of food allergic children were slightly lower at 39% (£550), with 61% (£864) being shared with the health service.
Introducing the findings, Dr Gary A Kearney, Interim Chief Executive, safefood, said; “For the first time in Northern Ireland, we now have reliable and locally relevant figures for the true cost of living with a food allergy, food intolerance or coeliac disease.
“Collectively, these conditions affect at least one in ten of the population and symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. What is clear from the research is that living with these conditions is a financial burden for individuals and their families.”
For those with coeliac disease, the associated extra costs were £1,365 a year for an adult, rising to £1,690 for a parent of a coeliac child. These costs were primarily due to medical visits but also health insurance and missed days from work, school or college.
For adults who were coeliac, 71% of the costs (£965) were incurred by the individual, with 29% (£400) shared with the health service. For parents of coeliac children, 60% (£1,011) were out-of-pocket costs with 40% (£679) shared with the health service.