Objectives: Clinical inference suggests the prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is substantially higher than that of celiac disease in the USA. Unfortunately, there are currently no data supporting these claims. The authors analyzed nationally representative data to estimate the prevalence of adherence to a gluten-free diet among participants without celiac disease and also to characterize the demographics and general health status of these participants.
Study design and setting: The Continuous National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010 enrolled 7762 individuals representing the civilian, non-institutionalized, US population free of celiac disease. Participants responded to interviewer administered questionnaires regarding current adherence to a gluten-free diet. Prevalence estimates were computed using SAS survey procedures.
Results: There were 49 individuals who reported current adherence to a gluten-free diet reflecting a weighted prevalence of 0.548% (95% CI 0.206-0.889). The prevalence of a gluten-free diet was higher in females (0.58%) than males (0.37%), although this was not statistically significant (p = 0.34). Participants reporting a gluten-free diet were older (46.6 vs. 40.5 years, p = 0.005), had higher high-density lipoprotein, lower iron and lower body mass index.
Conclusions: The estimated national prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is 0.548%, approximately half that of celiac disease. Future studies are merited in order to better understand the population burden of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.