PITTSBURGH - With the high costs of health care, more Americans are looking for a cheaper way to get tested for various illnesses. Channel 11 investigated at-home food sensitivity kits to see if they can really diagnose issues.
These at-home testing kits are starting to pop up at stores across Pittsburgh. They come in small boxes that promise to test everything from STDs to fertility to food sensitivities.
In April, one at-home kit maker, EverlyWell, announced an additional $50 million in financing to expand the testing kit business. It's now sold at Target. We went to a local dietitian to see why some doctors are skeptical about the booming business.
"There really needs to be more research done to give accuracy to a test like this," said dietitian specialist Therezia Alchoufete.
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We bought a kit online to find out and had Channel 11 Traffic Anchor Trisha Pittman take the test. Trisha has some known food allergies and wanted to find out more about what she's eating.
We filled out the kit and shipped it to EverlyWell. Within five business days, the results were back. We got a long list of things Trisha was possibly sensitive to, ranked from high to low. But some of the results were questionable, like green beans, which she hasn't eaten in years.
"Which goes to say that this isn't as accurate of a test as people might think," Alchoufete said.
Alchoufete says she fears these results could have people overreacting if they don't consult with their doctor after using the test kits.
"It can be kind of dangerous because it does lead to nutritional deficiencies," Alchoufete said.
We spoke to Dr. Marra Francis of EverlyWell on the phone. She says many of the customers have already gone to doctors before trying the test.
"They turn to this testing because their providers were actually unable to determine the cause of their symptoms through allergy testing," said Francis. "They're really just trying to find some answers."
She says the test is just like one that could be ordered through your doctor's office. Instead, it uses independent certified labs and board certified physicians to run and review the tests at cheaper costs.
The test we purchased cost $160. Francis says patients could be charged more than $600 in a doctor's office.
"We believe that everyone deserves access to affordable and convenient lab testing," said Francis.
Both Alchoufete and EverlyWell don't suggest eliminating entire critical food groups based on your results. If you choose to take these tests, you should talk to your physician about the results and keep a food diary about how you feel after eating certain types of foods.
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