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Mundane methods in local geographical fieldwork

Food allergies and economic development: are they linked?

This article investigates the impacts of economic transition on global health, with a focus on the increase of food allergies in newly emerging economies

A smog layer hangs over Cape Town, South Africa

Allergies are commonly perceived as a ‘disease of affluence’ and are thought to be rare in the developing world. Certainly, recent decades have witnessed the emergence of a food allergy epidemic across the developed world, in North America, Australia and Western Europe. However, data now show that the high-income urban centres in Africa and South America are starting to mirror Europe in allergy prevalence. Indeed, in countries such as Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana rates of allergy range between 20% to 30%, matching the morbidity of HIV/AIDS and malaria (Hossny 2019).

This rise may simply reflect previous under-reporting and under-diagnosis as well as issues limiting in-country research. (Note the large data gaps shown in Figure 1.) However, it also reveals parallels with human development, adoption of ‘Western lifestyles’, cultural diffusion and the impacts of globalisation and transnational corporations (TNCs).

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Mundane methods in local geographical fieldwork

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