Eating disorders may be more common in untreated celiac disease

By Van Waffle

Summary: This Italian study claims to be the first to investigate whether eating disorders are more common in people with untreated celiac disease. Researchers interviewed 100 patients from an out-patient clinic immediately after they had been diagnosed and before a gluten-free diet had been recommended to them, and compared them with 100 healthy individuals. Participants answered questions to assess eating behavior and emotional health.

Conclusion: People with untreated celiac disease showed significant differences in their attitudes and eating behavior. For example, in this Italian study group, people with celiac disease consumed 30 percent more bread and pasta than normal. They also scored significantly higher on a test that measures anxiety about one’s weight and physical appearance. Women with celiac disease scored higher for masked symptoms that can indicate bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

The study is limited because it cannot explain the correlation, and it did not investigate what happens after the switch to a gluten-free diet. Further study is required to understand the relationship between celiac disease and eating disorders. However, the researchers warn caregivers to be alert for the presence of eating disorders in people with celiac disease.


[1] “Prevalence of eating disorders in adults with celiac disease”, Passananit V, Siniscalchi M, Zingone F, Bucci C, Tortora R, Iovino P, Ciacci C, #Gastroenterology Research and Practice#, 2013, Article ID 491657, 7 pages.

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