Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Allergy Unit

Student research

Nutritional Adequacy, Dietary Habits and Psychological Characteristics of Patients Presenting to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit

Nicole Dynan and Caitlin McGirr
Master of Nutrition and Dietetics, The University of Sydney
Supervisors: Anne Swain, Brooke McKinnon, Carling Chan, Kirsty Le Ray, Robert Loblay
November 2013


Aims: The aim of this study was to assess the nutritional adequacy, dietary habits and psychological characteristics of patients presenting with suspected food intolerance to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Allergy Unit for their first appointment.

Methods: A cohort of consecutive patients (n=47) presenting to the RPAH Allergy Unit with suspected food intolerances was studied using four day weighed food records and dietary/psychological questionnaires. Patients were categorised into two groups post clinical assessment. Diet Group comprised of those recommended for the RPAH Elimination Diet and challenge protocol. Non-Diet Group comprised of patients recommended for other therapies.

Results: Diet Group reported a greater improvement in symptoms associated with dietary changes made before attending the RPAH Allergy Unit, compared to Non-Diet Group. The mean intake of most micronutrients exceeded the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI), based on food and drink intake. Micronutrient inadequacy was recorded (Diet Group, Non-Diet Group) for; calcium (55%, 59%), folate (74%, 75%) and iron (95%, 92%). Carbohydrate contribution to total energy, and percentage of estimated energy requirements, were below -recommendations. Psychological characteristics were largely comparable to the general population for both groups except for quality of life (QoL) measures. Diet Group revealed a higher level of QoL impairment compared to Non-Diet Group.

Conclusion: Nutritional intake of patients attending the RPAH Allergy Unit was similar to the general population, despite presenting with dietary restrictions and impaired QoL. Most patients met norms for eating behaviours and other psychological characteristics. The study will continue to follow up these patients to assess changes to nutritional intake and QoL on the RPAH Elimination Diet and challenge protocol.