Stats & Data

Stats & Data

Key facts on Coeliac Disease

  • Coeliac is pronounced see-liac
  • Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or an intolerance, but an autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten
  • Damage to the gut lining occurs when someone with coeliac disease eats gluten
  • Coeliac disease affects at least 1 in 100 people in the UK and in Europe; however, only about 24% of people with the condition are currently clinically diagnosed
  • The average length of time taken for someone to be diagnosed with the disease from the onset of symptoms is a staggering 13 years
  • There is no cure for the condition; the only treatment is a strict gluten free diet for life
  • If a gluten free diet is not followed, the disease can lead to nutritional deficiencies and other complications such as osteoporosis, cancer of the small bowel and unexplained infertility problems
  • Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, rye and barley. Some people with coeliac disease are also sensitive to oats
  • Obvious sources of gluten include foods that contain traditional flour such as, breads, pasta, cereals, cakes and biscuits. Gluten is also found in many favourite foods such as fish fingers, sausages, gravies, sauces, stock cubes, soy sauce and even in some chocolate
  • If someone with coeliac disease accidentally eats gluten, they are likely to be unwell within a few hours. Symptoms can be varied but include severe diarrhoea and vomiting and can last several days
  • Gluten free food can be contaminated by food that contains gluten during preparation. Sources of contamination include breadcrumbs in toasters and on bread boards, utensils used for spreading and spooning jam, butter, chutney etc onto bread and from cooking oil and water
  • It is a myth that you can grow out of coeliac disease. Once you are diagnosed, you have it for life
  • Coeliac disease is a genetic condition and runs in families. Studies show that if someone in a family has the condition, there is a 1 in 10 chance of a close relative developing the disease
  • 1 in 4 people with coeliac disease have previously been treated for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) prior to diagnosis of coeliac disease, so people with IBS should be tested for coeliac disease
  • People with coeliac disease cannot join the armed forces
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is the skin presentation of coeliac disease
  • People medically diagnosed with coeliac disease and DH can access some gluten free staple foods on prescription, but access to these depends on where you live. Some Clinical Commissioning Groups in England have now reduced or stopped prescribing items
  • Coeliac UK is the national charity for people with coeliac disease and has a wealth of information for all those following a gluten free diet including recipes, helpline and a regular magazine. It was established in 1968 and around 12,000 new members join every year
  • Coeliac UK has two smartphone apps: Gluten Free Food Checker and Gluten free on the Move, helping those with coeliac disease and those choosing to eat gluten free, to manage every element of their diet; whether shopping for food or finding somewhere to eat out. It is available to all members of the charity
  • In 2015, the UK’s first online assessment for coeliac disease where people can check their symptoms was launched to help find the missing half a million people in the UK currently undiagnosed with coeliac disease. Visit to take the online assessment and find out more
  • Coeliac UK’s Awareness Week for 2017 will take place from 8-14 May and will be concentrating on issues surrounding eating out on a gluten free diet. Whether in cafes, restaurants or pubs as well as buying gluten free food in supermarkets.

Do I Have Coeliac Disease?

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