11th August 2017
The American comedian George Lopez recently performed a sketch which included jokes about travelling with allergies and nuts in schools.
We recognise that comedians often push social boundaries, expressing views that are controversial or exaggerate the norm to challenge their audience, make people think and provide entertainment. However, in this instance his comments caused concerns for our supporters.
We do not wish to be humourless, but severe allergies are not a laughing matter. We are concerned that joking about such a serious issue may cause people to think that the risks are less severe.
In the UK, 1-2% of adults have a food allergy. This, combined with the 5-8% of children with a food allergy, equates to about 2 million people. Every year around 20 people will die from anaphylaxis and there has been an increase in hospital admissions for allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in England of more than a third in the past five years.
Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction and can be life threatening. The whole body is affected, often within minutes, but sometimes within hours, of exposure to a substance which causes an allergic reaction. Where foods such as nuts are concerned, even mild symptoms should not be ignored because future reactions may be severe.
There are currently no known cures for allergies or anaphylaxis, however, there are several management approaches that allergic individuals can adopt to live a normal life and avoid reactions. Avoidance techniques such as excluding an allergen from diets or contact in daily life are very important.
We would encourage everyone to read the information to consider how you can best support people living with severe allergies to avoid reactions.