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  • Jefferson Adams

    England Facing Big Changes to Gluten-Free Food Prescription Program

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Evidence of flaws in access for people with celiac disease, coupled with a changing distribution of gluten-free goods has put England’s system of gluten-free prescriptions under scrutiny.


    Image: CC--Eugene Peretz
    Caption: Image: CC--Eugene Peretz

    Celiac.com 05/24/2018 - England is facing some hard questions about gluten-free food prescriptions for people with celiac disease. Under England’s National Health Plan, people with celiac disease are eligible for gluten-free foods as part of their medical treatment. 

    The latest research shows that prescription practice for gluten-free foods varies widely, and often seems independent of medical factors. This news has put those prescribing practices under scrutiny.



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    "Gluten free prescribing is clearly in a state of flux at the moment, with an apparent rapid reduction in prescribing nationally," say the researchers. Their data analysis revealed that after a steady increase in prescriptions between 1998 and 2010, the prescription rate for gluten free foods has both fallen, and become more variable, in recent years. Not only is there tremendous variation in gluten free prescribing, say the researchers, “this variation appears to exist largely without good reason…”

    Worse still, the research showed that those living in the most deprived areas of the country are the least likely to be prescribed gluten-free products, possibly due to a lower rate of celiac diagnosis in disadvantaged groups, say the researchers.

    But following a public consultation, the government decided earlier this year to restrict the range of gluten free products rather than banning them outright. As research data pile up and gluten-free food becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, look for more changes to England’s gluten-free prescription program to follow. 

    Read more about this research in the online journal BMJ Open.

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    I was diagnosed while living in England in 2008 and was able to use the gluten-free prescription plan. What a blessing it was. The mail order gluten-free food was so much better than I could get in the grocery store (especially bread) and at that time the UK was way ahead of the USA when it came to availability and variety of products. After returning to the USA, I often thought how much I missed their gluten-free products especially since the prescription plan made eating gluten-free so much more affordable. 

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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