Eating Disorder Risk Higher For Celiacs

eating-disordersYoung women afflicted with celiac disease, a chronic intestinal inflammation caused by gluten, are at greater risk of eating disorders, such as anorexia, according to a Swedish study published in the journal Pediatrics.

This disease affects 1% of the population and destroys the small intestine, causing deficiencies and malnutrition. According to this Swedish study of approximately 107,000 women, celiac disease also multiplies the risk of anorexia. 18,000 of these, who have celiac disease, were diagnosed by biopsy between 1969 and 2008, at a median age of 28 years.

This anorexia risk is even more elevated prior to the diagnosis of celiac disease, according to the study. Prior to the age of 19 years, a diagnosis of anorexia was 4.5 times more likely among celiacs compared to those without the disease.

Avoiding this insoluble protein, found in wheat, barley, oats and rye – the grains most often used for bread, pastries and pasta, as well as many prepared dishes – is for now the only recommended treatment.

Consequently, this food restriction can, in certain cases, become excessively strict, out of fear of the symptoms reappearing (such as chronic diarrhoea, weight loss, vomiting, fatigue, circulation problems, neurological issues, etc.) and this approach can lead to anorexia, according to the study.

According to the French Society for the Gluten Intolerant, one European in 100 will develop celiac disease. However, only 10 – 20% of these are diagnosed in France. Blood tests allow for the detection of the antibodies characteristic of
gluten intolerance.

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