Economic burden of a gluten-free diet

J Hum Nutr Diet. 2007 Oct;20(5):423-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2007.00763.x.


Background: Coeliac disease is a common, autoimmune disorder, for which the only treatment is lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet. This study evaluates the economic burden of adhering to a gluten-free diet.

Methods: A market basket of products identified by name brand, weight or package size for both regular wheat-based products and gluten-free counterparts was developed. The differences in price between purchase venues, both type of store (general grocery store, an upscale grocery store and a health food store and four internet-based grocery sites) and region was also analysed.

Results: Availability of gluten-free products varied between the different venues, regular grocery stores carried 36%, while upscale markets carried 41%, and health food stores 94%, compared with 100% availability on the internet. Overall, every gluten-free product was more expensive than their wheat-based counterpart (P <or= 0.05). Bread and pasta was twice as expensive as their wheat-based counterparts. Cost was affected more by shopping venue than geographic location.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that gluten-free foods have poor availability and are more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts. The impact of these findings on dietary compliance and the quality of life needs to be addressed.

MeSH terms

  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy*
  • Commerce / economics*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Financing, Personal
  • Glutens / administration & dosage*
  • Glutens / economics*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Patient Compliance
  • United States


  • Glutens