Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Allergy Unit

Student research

Trends of Eating Behaviour in Adult Women – a Cross-Sectional Study.

Katinka Vanderlely
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Wollongong
Supervisors: Velencia Soutter, Robert Loblay, Anne Swain
October 2005

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Food has a role in a number of adverse reactions.  Food allergy is an abnormal immunological reaction to food whereas the term food intolerance encompasses all non-allergic adverse responses to foods.  There has been a dramatic increase in symptoms associated with allergy in the community and to avoid development, sensitisation must be prevented.  Studies suggest exposure to dietary antigens occurs transplacentally during late stage of pregnancy as well as through breast milk which can elicit reactions in infants.  It has been shown that infants from mothers who avoid specific food allergens during pregnancy and lactation combined with the avoidance of high allergenic foods in the first years of life experience a significant reduction in allergy and sensitisation, however these results are inconsistent.  Dietary behaviour is shown to influence prevalence rates of allergy and this project observed trends in the diets of adult women, particularly those pregnant and/ or lactating, to identify factors contributing to this increased prevalence.  A total of 200 women participated by completing a detailed Food Frequency Questionnaire.  Significant differences between subgroups of women were determined usingANOVA and t-tests. Results showed significant differences between the intakes of nuts between women aged 50-65 and pregnant women (p=<0.05), and the intakes of protein containing foods were higher than recommendations set in the Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults for most subgroups of women (p<0.05).  The real value of these results is that they demonstrate trends which can be followed in the future once more subjects have been recruited.