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The impact of a gluten-free diet on adults with coeliac disease: results of a national survey

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Abstract Objective 

We sought to evaluate the impact of the gluten-free diet on the 5,240 members of the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA). Data are presented on 2,681 adults (≥16 years) with biopsy-proven celiac disease (CD). Methods 

A mail-out survey was used. Quality of life was evaluated using the ‘SF12’, and celiac-specific questions. Results 

Mean age was 56 years, mean age at diagnosis was 45 years, and 75% were female. The ‘SF12’ summary scores were similar to normative Canadian data, but were significantly lower for females and newly diagnosed patients.

Respondents reported: following a gluten-free (GF) diet (90%), improvement on the diet (83%), and difficulties following the diet (44%), which included: determining if foods were GF (85%), finding GF foods in stores (83%), avoiding restaurants (79%), and avoiding travel (38%). Most common reactions to consumed gluten (among 73%) included pain, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, nausea, and headache.

Excellent information on CD and its treatment was provided by the CCA (64%), gastroenterologists (28%), dietitians (26%) and family doctor (12%). Conclusions 

Quality of life in those with CD could be increased with early diagnosis, increased availability of gluten-free foods, improved food labelling, and better dietary instruction. Education of physicians and dietitians about CD and its treatment is essential.

Keywords: coeliac disease; dietary survey; gluten-free diet; quality of life

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Canadian Celiac Association, Professional Advisory Board 2: Department of Medicine and Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON and Department of Medicine, Queen's University (Adjunct) 3: Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta and Chair of Professional Advisory Board, CCA 4: School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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