Celiac.com 09/26/2016 - Previous studies have indicated an increase in celiac disease rates in the United States, but these studies have been done on narrow populations, and did not produce results that are nationally representative.
Researchers recently released an new comprehensive report, called, Time Trends in the Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Diet in the US Population: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2009-2014. The research team included Hyun-seok Kim, MD, MPH; Kalpesh G. Patel, MD1; Evan Orosz, DO; Neil Kothari, MD; Michael F. Demyen, MD; Nikolaos Pyrsopoulos, MD, PhD, MBA; and Sushil K. Ahlawat, MD. They are variously affiliated with the Division of Gastroenterology and the Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
Currently, far more people follow a gluten-free diet than have celiac disease. The numbers of people eating gluten-free food far outpace the levels of celiac disease diagnosis. This may be due to perceptions that the diet is healthier than a standard non-gluten-free diet.
This research teams recent surveys examine the current trends in the prevalence of celiac disease and adherence to a gluten-free diet, including people without celiac disease, using nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANESs) 2009-2014.
The study evaluated 22,278 individuals over the age of 6 who completed surveys and blood tests for celiac disease. The subjects were interviewed directly regarding their prior diagnosis of celiac disease and adherence to a gluten-free diet.
The researchers found that 106 (0.69%) individuals had a celiac disease diagnosis, and 213 (1.08%) followed a gluten-free diet but didn't have celiac disease. These results correlate to an estimated 1.76 million people with celiac disease, and 2.7 million people who follow a gluten-free diet without a diagnosis of celiac disease in the United States.
Overall, the researchers found that the prevalence of celiac disease has remained steady (0.70% in 2009-2010, 0.77% in 2011-2012, and 0.58% in 2013-2014), however, those who follow a gluten-free diet but don't have celiac disease have increased over time (0.52% in 2009-2010, 0.99% in 2011-2012, and 1.69% in 2013-2014). The researchers conclude that the two might be related, as the decrease in gluten consumption could contribute to a plateau in those who are being diagnosed with celiac disease.