Article

Economic burden of a gluten-free diet

Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York, United States
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (Impact Factor: 2.07). 11/2007; 20(5):423-30. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2007.00763.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Coeliac disease is a common, autoimmune disorder, for which the only treatment is lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet. This study evaluates the economic burden of adhering to a gluten-free diet.
A market basket of products identified by name brand, weight or package size for both regular wheat-based products and gluten-free counterparts was developed. The differences in price between purchase venues, both type of store (general grocery store, an upscale grocery store and a health food store and four internet-based grocery sites) and region was also analysed.
Availability of gluten-free products varied between the different venues, regular grocery stores carried 36%, while upscale markets carried 41%, and health food stores 94%, compared with 100% availability on the internet. Overall, every gluten-free product was more expensive than their wheat-based counterpart (P <or= 0.05). Bread and pasta was twice as expensive as their wheat-based counterparts. Cost was affected more by shopping venue than geographic location.
This study demonstrated that gluten-free foods have poor availability and are more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts. The impact of these findings on dietary compliance and the quality of life needs to be addressed.

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