Project Details


The Adult Food Allergy Research Programme, funded by the UK Food Standards Agency, aims to
1. Determine the prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy in adulthood;
2. Describe the different trajectories of food allergy across the life course; and
3. Describe adverse reactions to foods that are not mediated by IgE in adults
A collaborative project between the University of Manchester, Southampton University; Amsterdam Academic Medical Centre and the NHS through Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) and Isle of Wight NHS Trust it is led by Professors Clare Mills and Angela Simpson (The University of Manchester), Professors Graham Roberts and Hasan Arshad (The University of Southampton) and Professor Ronald van Ree (Amsterdam Academic Medical Centre) supported by Professor Arpana Verma, Dr Phil Couch and Dr Hui Guo at the University of Manchester. This interdisciplinary partnership builds on collaborations spanning many years through other projects (including the EU-funded EuroPrevall and iFAAM projects). It integrates clinical and epidemiological research with computer science and data analytics to provide a step change in our knowledge of the true prevalence of IgE mediated food allergy, in addition to prevalence of non-IgE mediated adverse reactions to food.

A robust evidence-base regarding the prevalence of adverse reactions, their patterns and risk factors for their development is required to underpin the development of effective policies seeking to manage, prevent and treat such conditions. Since adult food allergy has not been studied systematically in the UK in recent times, it is not known whether the patterns, prevalence and phenotypes of adverse reactions to foods in adults has changed over the last 20 years in the UK, particularly in relation to IgE-mediated reactions. Studies in longitudinal cohorts can provide new knowledge on the trajectories of food allergies from childhood into adulthood which will help inform the likely impact of such strategies.
The new knowledge arising from the project will facilitate the development of novel approaches and interventions for the prevention and treatment of food allergy in adulthood. The project will provide data which can be used to assess the impact of any public health policies or interventions designed to reduce the incidence and burden of food allergies in the UK in future.

The project aims will be delivered through two complementary epidemiological approaches. Firstly, a cross-sectional study will be used to assess the prevalence of food allergy across the adult population by utilising the diverse demographic of individuals from Manchester, Southampton and the Isle of Wight in urban and rural environments. This will provide a large group of participants, representative of the UK, who can be characterised with regards to adverse reactions to food including those which may not be mediated by IgE. A large community survey of adults aged 20-70 years will be carried out to identify the prevalence of food allergy in the general adult population. Secondly, longitudinal cohorts which have now reached adulthood will be revisited which contain high quality data including the factors that are likely to be associated with the development of food allergy in either childhood or adulthood which will allow the study team to determine the trajectory of food allergy across the life course. Well characterised cohorts including the Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study (MAAS), Isle of Wight 1989 and FAIR population-based cohorts will provide information on young adults aged between 20-32.Clinical confirmation of food allergy (including oral food challenge) will be undertaken in both study populations. The data from the different centres and study populations will be collected, curated and integrated within an innovative e-lab health informatics platform and analysed to provide a robust estimate of the prevalence of food allergy in UK adults, identify the major foods involved and assess the contribution made by persistent childhood food allergy.
Short titleR:KAC MILLS C FSA
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/12/22

Collaborative partners

  • The University of Manchester (lead)
  • University of Southampton (Collaborator)
  • University of Bristol (Collaborator)
  • Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (Collaborator)


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