Anne C. Weaver: Writer sees downside to nut ban in schools



Last modified: Monday, January 01, 0001

To the editor:

As a local pediatrician and internist, I am deeply concerned about the proposed nut ban in the Amherst schools.

While I sympathize with those who have severe nut allergies and understand the terrifying potential for a life threatening event, I believe there are less restrictive ways to accommodate their needs without inflicting harm on others who benefit from eating nuts.

Students with eating disorders also have a life-threatening illness that centers on food, and most of them depend on nuts and peanut butter to give them adequate calories. Type 1 diabetics who need frequent snacks would be harmed by a nut ban. Nuts are a healthful and sustaining food, an excellent energy source for athletes, and a good option for overweight — and normal weight — students. Peanut butter is an inexpensive food that doesn’t need refrigeration at school and is a well-liked staple in school lunches; a ban on it would be an economic hardship for many families and a huge inconvenience for many others.

Statistics show that in the US about 3 million people have peanut or tree nut allergies, and about 200 people die of any kind of food allergy. In contrast, up to 24 million people suffer from eating disorders, and the mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.

I hope the school will reconsider this ban and find better ways to manage the problem, including consulting our local allergists.

Anne C. Weaver, M.D.

Amherst Family Practice, P.C.

Amherst


 


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