JIJITANG2014-08-27 4:04 PM

SUPERMARKETS IN UK FACE GROWING DEMAND FOR GLUTEN-FREE FOOD

The number of people diagnosed with celiac disease has quadrupled in the UK in the past 20 years, putting more pressure on supermarkets to offer gluten-free foods.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by intolerance to gluten. Left untreated it can lead to infertility, osteoporosis, and small bowel cancer. One in 100 people in the UK have celiac disease, with the prevalence rising to one in ten for close family members.

Symptoms can include ongoing gut problems such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and flatulence, and other common symptoms include extreme tiredness, anemia, headaches, and mouth ulcers, weight loss (but not in all cases), skin problems, depression, and joint or bone pain.

The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and, once diagnosed, people with celiac disease need to eliminate all gluten-containing foods and make sure they only eat gluten-free varieties.

The National Institute of Health & Care Excellence (NICE) previously estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of those with celiac disease had been diagnosed. However, new research by Joe West, a clinical associate professor and reader in epidemiology in the University of Nottingham’s Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, shows diagnosis has increased to 24 percent.

“Our work also highlights that inequalities remain in the recognition and diagnosis of celiac disease throughout the UK. Such variation by region in the rates of diagnosis could be removed if NICE guidance were followed uniformly.”

West identified the number of people diagnosed during the study period using the diagnostic codes for celiac disease recorded in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink during the years 1990-2011. The study appears in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

“Of course, increasing numbers with a diagnosis is good news and will inevitably mean that there will be an increased demand for gluten-free products in supermarkets,” notes Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Coeliac UK. “But the three quarters undiagnosed is around 500,000 people—a shocking statistic that needs urgent action.”

PUSH FOR GLUTEN-FREE FOOD
There is an organized effort in the UK to support the “Gluten-free Guarantee,” which asks supermarkets to commit to have in stock eight core items of gluten-free food, making it easier for people with the condition to manage their diet.

“Can you imagine going into your local supermarket and there is no bread you can eat, not one loaf, not one slice? And when you check out the pasta, cereal, or flour again there is nothing available on the shelf which means you have to trawl around two or three stores in order to be able to find your staple foods,” asks Sleet.

“This is not about your preferred brand but about the major supermarkets ensuring that they have sufficient stock in all their stores, whatever their size, for this growing market of people who depend on gluten-free food for their health.”

Coeliac UK and CORE funded the research.

Original Article: 
《Incidence and Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis in the UK Over Two Decades: Population-Based Study》, Published on Journal 《The Amercian Journal of Gastroenterology》in May 25, 2014. 

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