Celiac disease in America affects three million citizens, but only one out of every hundred of its sufferers has been diagnosed. The average American has never heard of the disease, and it doesn’t occur to the average American doctor to test for it.
There are several organizations in the United States which are researching the disease and working hard to raise celiac awareness and support. One such organization is the Celiac Disease Research Center at Columbia University, headed by Dr. Peter Green, MD, a Professor of Medicine at the University. He is personally responsible for the diagnosis of 2,400 people with celiac disease every year and is dedicated to increasing the celiac diagnosis rate in the United States.
A higher rate of diagnosis yields a higher rate of support, Dr. Green says. This means more and more grocery stores and restaurants offering gluten-free foods and gluten-free cooking to gluten-intolerant consumers. Abroad, there are more gluten-free options available because there are more people diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. For instance, every pizzeria in Sydney, Australia offers gluten-free pizza, made with gluten-free flour.
Why is America way behind in celiac awareness? It probably has something to do with the fact that celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease that the government doesn’t support with research grants. Centers such as Dr. Green’s Celiac Disease Research Center are one-hundred percent dependent on charitable donations or university funds. Even though diagnosis is slightly up for celiac adults, this isn’t enough to raise awareness and bring relief for the three million people who suffer from celiac disease, nearly ninety-seven percent of whom don’t even know the cause of their painful symptoms. With increased diagnosis, we will surely see increased support, and soon the celiac community will be able to enjoy the same quality of life and food and cooking options which is enjoyed by, for instance, the lactose-intolerant community.
From our home to yours, Tina Turbin.