Most People Can't Tell a Tree Nut From a
SATURDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Many people with peanut
or tree nut allergies, and parents of children with such allergies,
can't identify potentially dangerous types of nuts just by looking
at them, a new study finds.
The study included 649 adults and 456 children who were asked to
identify each of 19 nuts in a display box. The nuts were both in
and out of the shell, and some were chopped, sliced or diced,
similar to how they appear on grocery store shelves.
Along with peanuts, the study included cashews, Brazil nuts,
pistachios, almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and
Overall, the participants correctly identified an average of
about eight of the 19 nuts (44 percent). Adults averaged 11 correct
answers, compared to just less than five for children. People aged
51 and older did the best, with an average of 13 correct
Only 21 participants (2 percent) correctly identified all 19
types of nuts.
The 27 people who reported they had a peanut or tree nut allergy
did no better than those without the allergies. Parents of children
with peanut or tree nut allergies did no better than parents of
children without the allergies.
The study was published in a recent issue of the
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
About 1.2 to 1.4 percent of Americans are allergic to peanuts or
tree nuts, which are the leading cause of death from food-triggered
Avoiding eating nuts is the main way to manage this type of
allergy. These findings suggest that educating patients about the
appearance of all types of nuts is an important follow-up to the
diagnosis of any kind of nut allergy, the study authors said.
"When we ask patients to avoid peanuts and tree nuts, we shouldn't assume patients know what they're looking for, because they may not," lead author Todd Hostetler, an assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus, said in a university news release. "It's worthwhile to do some education about what a tree nut is, what a peanut is, and what they all look like."
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