There has been quite a bit of talk about a recently released study stating that food allergies appears to lead to lower BMI (Body Mass Index) in children. I was going to quietly let the chatter pass. Until it came up again at my allergy support group meeting last night. A mom asked the guest speaker (an allergist) if we should be concerned about the growth of our children based on this new information.
The conclusion of the study is that children with food allergies have a lower BMI than children without allergies, and children with multiple food allergies have a BMI that is lower still. The inference being made is that food allergies negatively impact normal growth and development, and given this children with food allergies are smaller than their peers.
I would like to gently remind everyone that BMI is just one measurement of growth and development. Your child's pediatrician has been plotting their growth on a chart since birth. As long as your child is progressing normally along that curve, their growth and development is not a concern. Each person is unique and must FIRST be measured against their self. If your child is not progressing normally along their own curve, has dropped sharply off, or has plateaued then you will certainly discuss that with your doctor.
Also? DUH. Let's think about causation for just a moment...
Children with multiple food allergies eat less processed junk food. It is simply not available to them in the abundance it is available to non-allergic peers. In addition, there is growing concern about the increasing obesity rates among their peers.
Let's not be alarmist about low BMIs in children with food allergies. Look at the whole picture. Having a lower BMI than their peers may actually be a sign that our food allergic children are have healthier body sizes than their peers.
Feed your children well. Give them the largest variety of healthy foods you can, and the occasional treat. Nurture their relationship with food in a healthy way, nurture their body image. Give them the tools to maintain that low BMI, because as adults we all are painfully aware of where we fall on the BMI charts. It's normally above where we'd like to be. Don't lament that you, with the help of their food allergies, have started them along the path toward healthy living.