Honors Program

Honors in Nutrition

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Mary Andreae

Thesis Professor Department

<--College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences-->

Thesis Reader(s)

Mary Andreae, Michelle Johnson


Background: The purpose of this research study was to assess the role of healthcare in the diagnosis and treatment of food allergens. A food allergy is defined as an “adverse health effect arising from a specific immune response which occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food” (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, n.d.). There are eight major food allergens, which account for the majority of food allergies.

Methods: Data was obtained using a survey posted on Facebook and Instagram with a shareable feature after obtaining IRB approval from East Tennessee State University. The survey was comprised of six questions and was posted for 28 days. There were 70 responses; however, 13 data sets were incomplete and therefore removed.

Results: In total there were 98 food allergens reported. 75.5% of these fell into the “Big Eight” categories, and the remaining 24.5% were “other” food allergens. These included 27 different allergens. Most commonly, food allergens were diagnosed during adolescence (40.4%) due to a severe reaction (54.4%). Trial-and-error was the most common form of diet education (40.4%), and zero participants received education from a Registered Dietitian. When asked about knowledge, at diagnosis, 80.7% reported no to some knowledge of their food allergen. Currently, 78.9% of participants report being knowledgeable to very knowledgeable.

Conclusions: Healthcare should further explore the role of the RD when it comes to food allergen diagnosis and treatment. Further studies could include a larger population and minors. Other related studies could involve healthcare professionals to determine their roles in the food allergen diagnosis and treatment process.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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