Celiac Disease Around the World
- By Carissa Bell
- Published 12/6/2013
My name is Carissa and I was diagnosed with celiac disease in early 2009. Being diagnosed has changed my life for the better. I am grateful everyday to be gluten-free. My doctor advised I see a nutritionist and by the time I saw her, which was 3 weeks after being diagnosed I already knew more than she did about celiac disease. I also had an interest in nutrition but after realizing that my nutritionist knew very little about celiac disease I decided to study nutrition, which is what I am doing now. I spend a lot of time studying anything related to gluten free, it is my passion in life. Since being diagnosed I have helped many people around me realize how harmful modernized wheat is to our bodies and many of those people I have educated have given up wheat and feel great and have me to thank.
I recently had to write a lesson plan for my Nutrition in the Community class for school. I am studying to be a dietetics technician in an effort to increase the awareness in that field about gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
For the lesson plan I had to create I thought: "what better to teach than to use somethings that I am quite familiar with?" So I decided to teach about becoming newly diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
I learned something quite interesting about other countries around the world when it comes to celiac disease. I am sure most of you are aware that celiac is very much better known in parts of Europe. In some countries like Italy it is mandatory for children at age 6 to be tested for celiac disease. Each Italian citizen over the age of 10 who is diagnosed with celiac disease receives a monthly stipend of 140 euros, which is to be spent on gluten-free foods.
The Italian Celiac Association has spent a great deal of time educating restaurants on how to handle celiac disease. In the UK over 90% of British celiac patients receive gluten-free food as part of their prescription for the gluten-free diet that they must follow. Ireland offers tax breaks on gluten-free food like the U.S. does, but they used to offer gluten-free foods free of charge. That program is no longer offered today. I imagine it became much too costly.
The European Union has adopted universal labeling laws for gluten-free food. If the food contains less than 100 mg of gluten it is then labeled as " very low gluten." Where as if it contains 20 mg or less of gluten it is then labeled "gluten-free." The U.S. is working on this, but we are not there yet. Canada is known for it's impressive gluten-free labeling where any intentionally added gluten must be labeled on the product.
Argentina recently implemented it's "National Program for the Detection and Control of Celiac Disease." This program is wonderful in that it promotes awareness and knowledge of celiac disease. The program also led to labeling restrictions. What impresses me is that for residents of Argentina, Argentinian health care providers must cover the cost of alternative gluten-free flours and mixes.
The United States has come a long way in awareness and research of celiac disease, but we still have a long way to go if we want to catch up with these other countries.
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