Economic burden of food allergy: A systematic review

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2019 Apr;122(4):373-380.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2019.01.014. Epub 2019 Jan 28.


Objective: To assess the economic burden of food allergy (FA) worldwide.

Data sources: PubMed MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials on the Wiley platform were searched to identify literature that assessed direct, out-of-pocket, and opportunity costs of FA. All databases were searched back to their inception, and no language or date limits were applied.

Study selections: We included primary studies that examined direct medical, out-of-pocket, or opportunity costs and/or lost labor productivity in food allergic adults and/or children and their families.

Results: Eleven papers met our inclusion criteria, of which ed7 addressed direct medical, 7 addressed out-of-pocket, and 5 addressed opportunity costs. Estimates were based on data that reflected costs for a patient with FA (individual level) or costs for a household with a food allergic patient (household level). The mean individual-level direct medical costs ($2081) were much higher than the mean household-level costs ($806). The mean individual-level out-of-pocket ($1874) and opportunity ($1038) and opportunity cost were lower than the mean household-level out-of-pocket ($3339) and opportunity ($4881) costs. Household-level estimates of lost opportunity costs imposed the largest economic burden attributable to FA.

Conclusion: Most of the economic burden studies reviewed measured components of economic burden that are unique to individuals with FA but did so in noncomparable ways. Addressing cost burdens and measuring them using standardized instruments and methods will be critical to better understand the economic burden of FA globally.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness
  • Food Hypersensitivity / economics*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans