Study Shows That Nearly Half of Children with Food Allergies Experience Bullying

Parents and pediatricians should routinely ask children with food allergy about bullying

NEW YORK – Nearly half of children diagnosed with food allergies who participated in a recent study are bullied, according to researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. One third of those bullied specifically due to their food allergy. Almost eight percent of children in the U.S. are allergic to foods such as peanuts, tree-nuts, milk, eggs, and shellfish.

Nearly half of parents surveyed (47.9 percent) were not aware of the bullying—although both the bullied children and their parents reported experiencing higher stress levels and lower quality of life.

The study, titled, “Child and Parental Reports of Bullying in a Consecutive Sample of Children with Food Allergy,” appears in the online issue of Pediatrics on December 24. The study was led by Eyal Shemesh, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  Dr. Shemesh and his team surveyed 251 pairs of parents and children. The patient and parent pairs were consecutively recruited during allergy clinic visits to independently answer questionnaires. Bullying due to food allergy or for any cause, quality of life, and distress in both the child and parent were evaluated using validated questionnaires.

“Parents and pediatricians should routinely ask children with food allergy about bullying,” said Dr. Shemesh. “Finding out about the child’s experience might allow targeted interventions, and would be expected to reduce additional stress and improve quality of life for these children trying to manage their food allergies.” Dr. Shemesh is Director of EMPOWER (Enhancing, Managing, and Promoting Well-being and Resiliency), a program within Mount Sinai’s Jaffe Food Allergy Institute. Dr. Shemesh is also Chief of the Division of Behavioral and Developmental Health in the Department of Pediatrics at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“When parents are aware of the bullying, the child’s quality of life is better,” said the senior author, Scott H. Sicherer, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief, Division of Pediatric Allergy, Co-Director, EMPOWER program. “Our results should raise awareness for parents, school personnel, and physicians to proactively identify and address bullying in this population.”

Author: Mount Sinai, Researchers Survey Shows That Nearly Half of Children with Food Allergies Experience Bullying, December 24, 2012

The study, titled, “Child and Parental Reports of Bullying in a Consecutive Sample of Children with Food Allergy,” appears in the online issue of Pediatrics.

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Catchy vegetable names increase affinity for greens

Carrots, veggies and kids

Would you rather eat “carrots” or “crunchy yummy carrots”? Or, if you’re a youngster, “X-Ray Vision Carrots”? Kids seem to have an aversion to eating vegetables, but can this be changed? Previous work conducted by Wansink et al., in 2005 revealed that sensory perceptions of descriptive foods are better than plain dishes with no fancy descriptors. But can children be influenced to prefer vegetables using this same approach? To find out, researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Collin Payne, and Matthew Klinger conducted a couple of studies to explore whether a simple change such as using attractive names would influence kid’s consumption of vegetables.

Name that food!

In the first study, plain old carrots were transformed into “X-ray Vision Carrots.” 147 students ranging from 8-11 years old from 5 ethnically and economically diverse schools participated in tasting the cool new foods. Lunchroom menus were the same except that carrots were added on three consecutive days. On the first and last days, carrots remained unnamed. On the second day, the carrots were served as either “X-ray Vision Carrots” or “Food of the Day.” Although the amount of carrots selected was not impacted by the 3 different naming conditions the amount eaten was very much so. By changing the carrots to “X-ray vision carrots”, a whopping 66% were eaten, far greater than the 32% eaten when labeled “Food of the Day” and 35% eaten when unnamed. The success of the changes is stupendous, and the fun, low cost nature of the change makes it all the more enticing.

In the second study, carrots became “X-Ray vision carrots,” broccoli did a hulk like morph into “Power Punch Broccoli” along with “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans” replaced regular old green beans to give them more pizzazz. Researchers looked at food sales over two months in two neighboring NYC suburban schools. For the first month, both schools offered unnamed food items, while on the second month carrots, broccoli and green beans were given the more attractive names, only in one of the schools (the treatment school.) Of the 1,552 students involved 47.8% attended the treatment school. The results were outstanding: vegetable purchases went up by 99% in the treatment school, while in the other school vegetable sales declined by 16%!

These results demonstrate that using attractive names for healthy foods increases kid’s selection and consumption of these foods and that an attractive name intervention is robust, effective and scalable at little or no cost. Very importantly, these studies confirm that using attractive names to make foods sound more appealing works on individuals across all age levels!


Cornell University, Wansink, Brian, Just, David R., Payne, Collin R., & Klinger, Matthew. (2012). Attractive Names Sustain Increased Vegetable Intake in Schools, 17. September 2012

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Mary Lamielle Receives Martin Luther King Freedom Medal

Mary Lamielle, executive director of the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies, is one of fourteen Camden County, New Jersey, residents chosen to receive the 2012 Camden County Freedom Medal, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for their unselfish contributions to improving their community.

For three decades Mary has dedicated herself to promoting the public health and improving the lives of people sick or disabled by environmental exposures. She has served on dozens of federal and state advisory committees including the recently concluded CDC National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures. She is a member of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Public Interest Partners and HUD’s Disability Task Force.

Mary was nominated for the Freedom Medal by Diane Reibel, Assistant Professor of Physiology at Thomas Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia. In nominating Mary, Dr. Reibel noted that “I met Mary twenty-five years ago when I became ill from chemicals in my research laboratory. Mary’s knowledge, support, and advocacy were a life saver for me. What Mary did for me, she has done for thousands of people across New Jersey and tens of thousands nationwide.”

Mary was recently honored with the 2011 New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service, PSEG Environmental Stewardship Award, and a 2010 US EPA Region 2 Environmental Quality Award, the highest civilian award given by the EPA.

The Camden County Freedom Medal award was created in 2001 to honor the ideals indicative of the slain civil rights leader. According to Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr., “This is Camden County’s way of honoring Dr. King.”

Medals will be presented during an evening ceremony at the Camden County Boathouse at Cooper River on January 20.

Author: National Center for Environmental Health Strategies, Press Release, January 2012

Congratulation Mary, this is so, so well deserved!

Scented store environments, dangerous to the health of employees and customers

Scent marketing alarms the trade supervision and labor unions

Businesses that use fragrances in order to encourage customers to linger and buy, are becoming increasingly common. The scent marketing industry promotes the retail branch strongly. The fragrances that one finds in the shops are mixtures of different natural essential oils or chemical compositions. Neither is harmless for employees or customers. In Denmark, the trade supervision and labor unions are keeping their eye on the American fashion chain, “Abercrombie & Fitch”. The fashion chain is known for using the fragrance Citronellol, an aromatic oil that is classified as questionable because it can be harmful to one’s health and it can trigger allergies. The Danish trade supervision is currently committed to putting an end to the scenting in order to protect the employees and customers of the fashion chain.

Authorities and labor unions are going up against scented store environments

In Denmark, labor unions are paying close attention to the authorities’ course of action against the American fashion company “Abercrombie & Fitch”. In their shops, it smells strongly of perfume. The significant fragrance is supposed to bind the customer to the brand and increase sales. The newspaper “Politiken DK” reports that so-called scent marketing has extremely increased in Denmark in the past three years. Anyone who visits certain stores frequently or is employed there, can develop allergies. It is an unnecessary burden on the employees, because many of the fragrances can cause allergic reactions – the newspaper quoted the head of the trade supervision.

Contamination of indoor air with chemicals and allergenic fragrance oils

The perfumes for a scented environment are often led directly into the store through the air conditioning and ventilation system. Smaller shops set up bottles with aromatic oils, containing wooden sticks which release the fragrance into the room. Both are questionable, not only for people who already suffer from perfume allergies, but also for asthmatics and chemically sensitive people (MCS). Even healthy people may sensitize over time and develop allergies.

The trade supervision wants to protect employees and customers

We are most likely dealing with allergens, which are injected into the stores, is what the head of the trade supervision told the newspaper “Politiken DK”. That’s why the authorities tried to contact “Abercrombie & Fitch” at the end of last year. The authorities tried to make it clear to them that they wanted to protect employees against the high concentration of perfume in the shops, because it is an unnecessary burden.

Labor unions are receiving more and more complaints

Danish labor unions report that they receive more and more complaints from union members about the scenting of their workplace. Therefore, the actions of the trade supervision in the case of “Abercrombie & Fitch” are being closely observed. It is a major health problem for the employees in those stores, but also for the customers, said a union spokesperson to “Politiken DK”. The customers, unlike the employees have the choice and can simply stay away from the scented store. The employee unfortunately does not have this choice, especially in times when everyone is happy to even have a job.

It remains to be seen how the American company will behave, what measures the Danish trade supervision will take, and how much pressure the Danish labor unions will make. If the Abercrombie & Fitch” management is smart, they will stop exposing their employees and customers to substances that can cause illness. Sick employees cost a company money, and when customers realize why they don’t feel well in a shop and stay away, they too, can cost the company a lot of money.

The German Federal Environmental Agency has been warning against the use of fragrances for this purpose for years – through several press releases and it’s own published background paper which writes about this issue, „Fragrances: When something pleasant becomes a burden.” (german) An increase of scented shops has also been reported in Germany. So far, there is no authority or union which is really trying to prevent it.

Autor: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 17. Januar 2012


Politiken.DK, Duftende butikker er farlige for ansattes og kunders helbred, 13. Januar 2012

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Official start of construction for MCS residential project is in sight

Contaminant-free living area designed for the environmentally ill

Europe’s one-of-a-kind housing project is designed for Switzerland. The planned start for construction is spring 2012 and the project is estimated at costing 5.8 million Swiss francs. The small to medium sized ecologically built apartments meet the strict health requirements of chemically sensitive people. The Swiss housing cooperative “Healthy Living MCS” was founded three years ago and since then has been working toward the realization of an MCS housing project. The city of Zurich agreed and sees enormous potential in the MCS residential project. The knowledge won through this project can be very useful for future ecologically built residential projects in the city.

Construction begins in spring

The news came at exactly the right time. Christian Schifferle (video) sent an email from Switzerland just in time for Christmas stating the following:

“There’s good news: A few days ago, we finally received the building permit from the city of Zurich for our Zurich MCS-housing project. All our planning in the last two years is on track. In January, the City of Zurich will begin with the development work (access, water, electricity) and April /May is the official start of construction.”

Contaminant-free housing

In Switzerland, there were, as in Germany and Italy, already cases of suicide, because the appropriate living space for chemically sensitive people has not been available. When no one offers help, the despair and helplessness is tremendous if the apartments are uninhabitable due to a hypersensitivity to pollutants and nothing adequate is available. Christian Schifferle, the initiator of the housing project knows about the catastrophic housing situation through his consulting work and from his own personal experience. He spent years searching for a suitable, pollutant-free apartment and camped in a caravan in the country. Often he had to sleep in the forest, regardless of weather or temperature. A long time ordeal finally comes to an end for him and other environmentally ill. But Christian Schifferle is already thinking ahead and would like to develop pollution-free housing projects for the environmentally ill all across Europe in cooperation with the MCS housing cooperative.

Author: Silvia K.Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 02.01.2011

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