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Dietary shortcomings in children on a gluten-free diet

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Abstract Background: 

Coeliac disease (CD), or permanent gluten intolerance, is one of the most common chronic food-related diseases among children in Europe and the USA. The treatment is lifelong gluten-free diet (GFD) (i.e. the exclusion of wheat, rye and barley from the diet, which are important sources particularly of iron, dietary fibre and vitamin B). The present study aimed to evaluate dietary intakes of energy and nutrients in children and adolescents on GFD and compare these with intake of comparable age groups on a normal diet as well as current recommendations. Methods: 

Thirty children, 4–17 years of age with confirmed CD and on GFD were agreed to participate in this study at the Department of Pediatrics, Umeå University Hospital. Weight and height were used to calculate individual energy requirement according to Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2004 (NNR-04). Dietary intake was assessed using 5-day food records and household measures were used for quantities. Twenty-five children completed their dietary record. Results: 

Thirteen of the 25 children did not meet the recommended energy intake and the dietary intakes were inadequate regarding quality of macronutrients and quantity of minerals and vitamins. The mean intakes of sucrose and saturated fatty acids were above and the intakes of dietary fibre, vitamin D, magnesium and selenium below the NNR-04. High intakes of sucrose and saturated fat and a low intake of dietary fibre were also noted in a previous national survey on healthy children on a normal diet. The nutrient density of vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, magnesium and selenium were lower among CD children than healthy children but, for iron and calcium, it was higher in CD children. Conclusions: 

Children on GFD appear to follow the same trends as healthy children on a normal diet, with high intakes of saturated fat and sucrose and low intakes of dietary fibre, vitamin D and magnesium compared to recommendations.

Keywords: adolescents; children; coeliac disease; gluten-free diet

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Clinical Sciences, Pediatrics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden 2: Department of Food and Nutrition, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Publication date: June 1, 2010


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