As the gluten-free trend continues to grow in the United States, one may wonder why celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten, appears to be more prevalent in the US than in Europe. Although celiac disease affects approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide, prevalence rates vary across countries.
One possible reason for the higher prevalence in the US is the country's proactive approach to screening and testing for celiac disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the United States diagnoses celiac disease at a higher rate than European countries. Additionally, the prevalence of celiac disease may vary based on the genetic makeup of a population, as there are specific genes associated with celiac disease.
Another factor that may contribute to the higher prevalence of celiac disease in the US is the difference in wheat varieties used in baking. In Europe, wheat varieties tend to have lower gluten content due to regulations on wheat breeding. In contrast, the US has looser regulations on wheat breeding, which can lead to higher gluten content in wheat varieties. This difference in wheat may lead to a higher prevalence of celiac disease in the US, as people with celiac disease are unable to tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Furthermore, cultural and dietary differences may also play a role in the prevalence of celiac disease. The traditional European diet tends to be richer in whole grains, vegetables, and lean protein, which are naturally gluten-free. In contrast, the American diet is often more reliant on processed foods, which may contain gluten as a hidden ingredient. This difference in dietary habits may contribute to the higher prevalence of celiac disease in the US.
It is important to note that the prevalence of celiac disease is still relatively low in both the US and Europe, and early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious health consequences. If you suspect you have celiac disease, consult a medical professional and undergo testing.
- Celiac Disease Foundation. (n.d.). What is Celiac Disease? Retrieved from https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/
- Celiac Disease Foundation. (n.d.). Prevalence. Retrieved from https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/prevalence/
- Catassi, C., et al. (2010). Celiac disease diagnosis: simple rules are better than complicated algorithms. Journal of Pediatrics, 156(1), 34-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.09.040
- Fasano, A., Catassi, C. (2012). Celiac Disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, 367(25), 2419-2426. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra11115