Background: It has been suggested that the amount of gluten intake in populations offers an explanation for differences in the epidemiology of coeliac disease. Investigations into first-degree relatives of coeliac disease patients have often shown that relatives exhibit intermediate features of coeliac disease, possibly due to a low gluten intake.
Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the pattern of gluten consumption in the general Dutch population for different age and sex groups and for different product groups, and to investigate the daily gluten intake of first-degree relatives of coeliac disease patients.
Methods: Questionnaires concerning the gluten intake of 55 first-degree relatives of coeliac disease patients were analysed. To determine the gluten intake of the general Dutch population, the results of a mass investigation were used. The amount of gluten in the gluten-rich products was estimated by multiplying the amount of vegetable proteins by 0.8.
Results: The median daily gluten intake of the relatives was 12.9 g (range: 3.8-31.3). The mean daily gluten intake of the study population in the Netherlands was 1 3.1 g.
Conclusion: The gluten intake of first-degree relatives of coeliac disease patients was the same as that of the general population. Thus, a low gluten intake apparently does not explain the aspecific presentation and prevalence of coeliac disease in first-degree relatives of coeliac disease patients.