The coeliac tax

Coeliac UK’s Fiona Newsome highlights the financial impact shopping for gluten-free can have on coeliac consumers and urges action from legislators and industry.

Coeliac disease affects around one in every 100 people, with symptoms that are wide-ranging and can include diarrhoea, bloating, stomach cramps and constipation.1 The less well-known symptoms include extreme fatigue, persistent mouth ulcers, neurological symptoms, unexplained anaemia, unexplained subfertility (both male and female) and recurrent miscarriage.

There is no cure for the condition and the only treatment is a strict gluten‑free diet. This can be challenging, as gluten‑containing cereals (wheat, barley and rye) play a central role in the UK diet, as a result of their affordability and high nutritional content. Avoiding gluten is however crucial, because failure to stick to a gluten-free diet can lead to serious long‑term complications such as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions affecting cognitive function, balance, speech, and there are even some rare cases of small bowel cancer. Simply put, anything that makes sticking to the gluten-free diet harder puts the health of the coeliac community at risk.

This makes the finds from our recent report: ‘The gluten-free diet – what does it cost and why does it matter?’ even more concerning.2