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Celiac Disease Around the World

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.  

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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.

As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).

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3 Responses:


said this on
09 Dec 2013 6:03:31 PM PDT
Carissa, hello. Thank you for your article. I am Russian; my son was diagnosed with celiac disease a year ago. I just thought it might be interesting for you that in Russia, if you are celiac, you are pretty much on your own. I live in Krasnoyarsk, a city with a population of 1 million people. Historically, our country is extremely wheat and barley-oriented. We even have an ancient saying that bread is the head of all. Unfortunately, celiac awareness in the society is almost non-existant. In our city, we have only one store selling gluten-free goods (they have around 30 different items). Of course, there is no speaking about any financial aid. The situation with labeling is a disaster. So, as far as gluten-free goes, the situation in Europe, US and Canada looks like heaven from here.


said this on
13 Jan 2014 10:58:55 AM PDT
Sorry, but I live in Italy. There is no mandatory screening for children! There are subsidies for gluten free food, but it is not dependent on age.

Carissa bell
( Author)
said this on
12 Jan 2014 4:34:23 AM PDT
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I write in hopes to touch someone's life and to provide some of the knowledge I have gained in research. My advice to you is I would only buy meats and fresh fruits and vegetables and rice perhaps since GF labeling is non existent. It's sad to hear from you that celiac disease is unheard of in Russia. Sounds like this is an opportunity brought to you to educate others on this disease and the importance of a GF diet.

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Wish I could give you a hug. Unfortunately I know how that feels with Neurologists, Internists, Endocrinologists, Rheumatologists, GIs..... I got so tired of crying my drive home after refusing yet another script for Prozac. I do hope your GI can give you some answers even if it is just to rule out other possible issues. Keep on the gluten and we are here for you.

It is too bad that so often a full panel isn't done. Glad your appointment got moved up and hopefully you will get a clearer answer from the GI. Do keep eating gluten until the celiac testing is done. Once the testing is done do give the diet a good strict try. Hang in there.

That makes sense...I cried with relief when I got my diagnosis just because there was finally an answer. Please know that you are not weak or crazy. Keep pushing for testing. It could still be celiac, it could be Crohns. Push your Dr's to figure this out. Best wishes.

Thank you all very much. I actually cried when I got the answer. I wanted an explanation that I could "fix." Now I'm back to thinking I'm just weak and possibly crazy. I know I'm not crazy, but you know.

From what I have read online there is about a 1-3% chance of getting a false positive for celiac disease from a blood test. Was it a blood test that you got done? It may be worth your while to get a biopsy or more testing just to confirm it. I know being gluten free is a pain but it is better than getting cancer or other auto immune disorders.