Sunday, February 27, 2005

Forget the wars on drugs and terrorism -- this is more important.

Lucy Mangan reports from the front lines, or close enough to them to be a some personal risk, of the war against crap:

Law lecturer James Anstice . . . smashed up a nativity scene at Madame Tussaud's in London that featured David and Victoria Beckham (soccer star and former Spice Girl, respectively) as Joseph and Mary, and President Bush as one of the three wise men. He was charged with criminal damage for his efforts to render a cultural service to the nation. After his court appearance, Anstice said: "I have done my bit for the war against crap, but I do not think I am going to get involved in any more protests."

Unclear what this has to do with the war against crap, but Mangan says that most of the people who have food allegies actually don't:

I . . . am taking my cue from a study from UC Irvine that showed what many of us have long suspected: Most people who claim to have food allergies are, quite frankly, making it up.

The researchers told a study group (falsely) that they were allergic to certain foods. When they called the subjects later, lo and behold, they were regaled with heartfelt tales of how those foods had made the consumers turn purple and explode, or some such reactions.

That is not to say — and let me be very clear about this — that genuine food allergies don't exist. They can be symptoms of serious illness, and others can be serious enough on their own.

But although about 45% of people claim to have some kind of food intolerance (a figure that has risen dramatically over the last few years), doctors reckon that true allergic reactions can be found in only about 2% of the population (a figure that remains pretty static over the years).

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