People with coeliac disease face additional gluten free food costs of almost €1,000 per year: Safefood

Sarah Keogh, Coeliac Society of Ireland dietitian and report contributor, says that without support to meet these extra costs, some people with coeliac disease may revert to cheaper foods that will lead to complications with their health

Direct costs of following a gluten free diet for coeliac disease are €444 more expensive for adults and €903 for children

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28 June 2022 | 0

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The Coeliac Society of Ireland has called for increased support to help people with coeliac disease pay for gluten free food, after a major new study showed that they face additional costs of almost €1,000 each year.

The research, from Safefood, found that the direct costs of following a gluten free diet for coeliac disease are €444 more expensive for an adult and €903 for a child.

Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition for which there is no cure. The only treatment is a strict gluten free diet for life. An estimated 50,000 individuals in Ireland and 18,000 in Northern Ireland have coeliac disease.

The comprehensive Safefood study into ‘The socio-economic cost of food hypersensitivity on the island of Ireland’ details the findings of research carried out in Ireland and Northern Ireland to ascertain the socioeconomic cost of food hypersensitivity in both populations.

It also found that additional healthcare costs for people with coeliac disease amount to €426 for adults and €679 for children.

“The Safefood report clearly demonstrates the financial burden people face if they have coeliac disease: €444 for adults and €903 for the parents of coeliac children,” said Sarah Keogh, Coeliac Society of Ireland dietitian and report contributor.

“Coeliac sufferers have no option but to eat gluten free food and amid a cost of living crisis, with food prices rising for everyone, they will be worse hit than others,” she added. “Without support to meet these extra costs, some may revert to cheaper foods that will lead to complications with their health and result in an avoidable burden on the State’s health services.

“Coeliac disease is a lifelong medical condition,” Keogh continued. “The treatment for coeliac disease is dietary – they have to live gluten free – yet there is no support for medical card holders, under the Long Term Illness Scheme, or through the Drugs Payment Scheme. Why not?

“The Safefood report recommends that gluten free food should be on prescription for people aged up to 18 years in Ireland. We urge the government to adopt this recommendation and make a real difference to thousands of families in Ireland.”

PAYE workers who have coeliac disease are able to claim back 20% tax back on any food that is in the Coeliac Society’s Food List. However, this does not benefit people on lower incomes or who receive state financial support.

Other findings in the Safefood report include:

  • 55% of people with coeliac disease in Ireland do not have good access to a dietitian. GPs are often unable to refer patients to a dietitian due to a lack of available services.
  • There is a lack of awareness of coleiac disease among the general public and in the food industry.
  • There is a need for training in educational settings around food sensitivities to make it easier for people with coeliac disease to eat outside the home in safety.

The Safefood report, ‘The socio-economic cost of food hypersensitivity on the island of Ireland’, is available at www.safefood.net

 

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