Diet improves perception of health and well-being in symptomatic, but not asymptomatic, patients with celiac disease

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011 Feb;9(2):118-23. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2010.10.011. Epub 2010 Oct 26.


Background & aims: The benefits of serologic screening and early diagnosis of celiac disease in asymptomatic patients are not known. We investigated the impact of a gluten-free diet on self-perceived health and well-being in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with celiac disease.

Methods: We performed a prospective study of 698 consecutive adults newly diagnosed with celiac disease because of classic (n = 490) or extraintestinal (n = 62) symptoms or through screening of at-risk groups (n = 146; 23 were asymptomatic and analyzed separately). The survey included questions on health and well-being; quality of life was evaluated by the psychological general well-being (PGWB) questionnaire. Patients were followed for 1 year of treatment; 110 healthy subjects served as controls.

Results: On a gluten-free diet, self-perceived health improved significantly among patients with classic symptoms and those detected by screening. Patients in all groups were equally concerned about their health before the diagnosis, but anxiety was alleviated by the gluten-free diet. At diagnosis, the quality of life reduced among all 3 groups but improved significantly among patients on the diet. Among the 23 asymptomatic patients, perception of health worsened and concern about health increased while they were on the diet.

Conclusions: Self-perceived health and well-being were low among patients at the time they were diagnosed with celiac disease. Most patients benefited from a gluten-free diet, so it is important to identify patients with celiac disease. Perception of health decreased among asymptomatic cases, which discourages population-based screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy*
  • Celiac Disease / psychology
  • Diet, Gluten-Free*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires