This study aims to investigate the prevalence of self-reported food hypersensitivity, (SFH), the characteristics of women with SFH, and whether SFH is associated with multiple health complaints among the participants of the Norwegian Women and Cancer study (NOWAC).
We conducted a cross-sectional study among 64,316 women aged 41-76 years. The women were randomly selected from the Norwegian Central Person Register. Information on SFH and all covariates except age and place of residence was collected by questionnaires in 2002-2005.
The prevalence of SFH in our study sample was 6.8% (95% confidence interval: 6.7-7.0). Logistic regression analysis showed a negative association between SFH and age (odds ratio [OR] 0.97). The odds of SFH increased among women living in or near urban centers, women with more than 9 years of education, women who did not have full-time work, women who had experienced poor economic conditions in childhood, those living without a partner, and those who did not consume alcohol or smoke (OR varied from 1.10 to 1.70). Women with a low body mass index had higher odds of SFH (OR 1.37) than those with a moderate body mass index. SFH was positively associated with poor self-perceived health (OR 2.56). The odds of SFH increased with the number of concurrent health complaints, with an OR for 5-6 comorbidities of 4.93.
We found an association between SFH, poor health, and different socio demographic and lifestyle characteristics. Women with SFH had increased odds of reporting multiple health complaints.