Access to Allergen-Free Food Among Black and White Children with Food Allergy in the FORWARD Study

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2022 Jan;10(1):182-188. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2021.08.005. Epub 2021 Aug 19.


Background: Racial differences in access to allergen-free food have not been fully described among children with food allergy (FA).

Objective: To examine access to allergen-free foods among Black and White children with FA.

Methods: Black and White children with FA were enrolled in Food Allergy Outcomes Related to White and African American Racial Differences (FORWARD), a multisite prospective cohort study at 4 urban US centers. Caregivers completed questionnaires regarding access to allergen-free foods. Univariable statistics described demographics. Bivariable statistics evaluated crude associations with access to allergen-free foods. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated the adjusted effect of race on access to allergen-free foods. Geospatial analyses examined the distribution of race, socioeconomic status, and food desert residence.

Results: Among participants (n = 336), White caregivers (88.1%) were more likely to report access to allergen-free foods than Black caregivers (59%) (P < .001). White caregivers were more likely to purchase allergen-free foods online (35.2%) than Black caregivers (12%) (P < .001). Although Black children were more likely to live in a food desert, access to allergen-free food was not related to food desert residence. In the unadjusted analysis, White children were 5.2 times as likely to have access than Black children (P < .001); after adjusting for demographics, this increase in access was no longer significant (P = .08). Other predictors of access to allergen-free foods included online food purchasing, annual household income, respondent education level, milk allergy, and child age >5 years.

Conclusion: In the FORWARD cohort, Black children have less access to allergen-free foods than White children, but much of the difference is accounted for by socioeconomic status and other participant characteristics.

Keywords: Access; Black; Children; Disparities; FORWARD; Food allergy; Race; White.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Black People
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • White People*