Celiac.com 11/14/2013 - Until now, rates of non-celiac gluten sensitivity were largely a matter of clinical speculation, basically, educated guesswork among doctors.
A team of researchers recently set out to get some good clinical data that would tell them how common non-celiac gluten sensitivity actually is.
The research team included Daniel V. DiGiacomo, Christina A. Tennyson, Peter H. Green, and Ryan T. Demmer. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Medicine, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, and the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.
The authors used the Continuous National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009–2010 to enroll 7762 people from the civilian, non-institutionalized, US population free of celiac disease.
They then analyzed the data to estimate rates of adherence to a gluten-free diet among participants without celiac disease as a surrogate marker for non-celiac gluten sensitivity in the US.
They also used the data to characterize the demographics and general health status of the study participants.
Overall, forty-nine participants reported adherence to a gluten-free diet. With a weighted national prevalence of 0.548%, this represents 1.3 million individuals between 6 and 80 years old in the US.
The prevalence of a gluten-free diet was higher in females (0.58%) than males (0.37%), although this was not statistically significant (p = 0.34).
Participants reporting a gluten-free diet were older (46.6 vs. 40.5 years, p = 0.005), had higher high-density lipoprotein, lower iron and lower body mass index.
These numbers put the estimated national prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity at 0.548%, about half the rate of celiac disease.
However, the team calls for further studies in order to better understand the population burden of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.