A study of 126 adults with confirmed peanut allergy was conducted by a consortium of UK health organizations from 2012-2016 to determine whether external factors such as exercise or sleep deprivation had an effect on their tolerance for peanut exposure. The study, funded by the UK Food Standards Agency and published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, will be used to guide future food labeling initiatives by the agency.
All participants were first given a double blind placebo controlled food challenge (DBPCFC) to peanuts to establish their baseline tolerance for the allergen. 100 of the participants were then given three further challenges in random order, comprising one repeat baseline challenge and challenges with sleep deprivation and exercise to determine whether their tolerance was affected.
- The baseline dose that elicited reactivity of the participants was 214mg of peanut protein or roughly ⅔ of a peanut;
- Exercise and sleep deprivation each individually lowered the average amount of peanut required to elicit an allergic reaction by approximately half;
- As little as 1/30th of a peanut can cause a reaction in the most sensitive people which was 1 in 20 individuals with a peanut allergy.
The study concluded that exercise and sleep deprivation each significantly reduce the threshold of reactivity in people with peanut allergy, putting them at greater risk of a reaction if exposed to low levels of peanut.
The effect is important to consider by government agencies wishing to adopt standards for allergen thresholds for food labeling. The sponsor of the study, the Food Standards Agency, is the UK analog to the US Food and Drug Administration.