Are gluten-free foods expensive enought to warrant cash support for those who need it? Photo: CC--Quinn Dombrowski 05/26/2016 - An Australian dietary organization has published a study showing the high and hidden costs of a gluten-free diet, and is calling for a subsidy program to help offset those extra costs.

A newly published study quantifying the cost of gluten-free foods shows a family with two children can pay nearly 20% more for gluten-free food. The costs are even greater for single men on welfare.

The study is the first of its kind to prove "that a gluten-free diet is a significant financial burden for many Australian family types," say University of Wollongong researchers Kelly Lambert and Caitlin Ficken, the study's authors.

The study was supported by the Dieticians Association (DAA) of Australia, and the results appear in its scientific journal Nutrition and Dietetics. For their study, Lambert and Ficken compared gluten-free diet groceries with a standard non-gluten-free shopping basket using data from supermarkets in five varying suburbs in the Illawarra region south of Sydney.

They found that flour actually showed the highest cost differential, with gluten-free flour costing 570 per cent more than plain flour, "so even making things from scratch is exorbitantly more expensive," said Ms Lambert, who is also a dietician at Wollongong Hospital.

The study showed that wholemeal gluten-free bread was nearly five times more expensive than comparable non-gluten-free bread.

In the face of these results, the DAA is calling for gluten-free diets to be subsidized for those with medical need.

What do you think? Is a gluten-free diet for people in medical need something that deserves to be subsidized?

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