NHANES Shows Less Undiagnosed Celiac Disease in the US

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a program of studies conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. It is designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the US. It combines interviews as well as physical exmaminations and lab work of study participants. It is conducted every two years and enrolls 5,000 participants in each study.  It is an important set of data for evaluating dietary concerns as well as trends. Many researchers study the data to learn about particular health issues. Recently, Dr. Joseph Muray of the Mayo Clinic looked for trends in the diagnosis of Celiac from studies done from 2009-2014  The good news is that fewer people with Celiac Disease are going undiagnosed. Dr. Murray's analysis of this data shows that the actual proportion of Celiac in the participants remains the constant at about 0.7%. However the ratio of diagnosed to undiagnosed has changed significantly. The number of these unidentified cases fell from 0.6% to 0.3% In other words the number of unidentified cases was halved during this time period.  Dr. Murray attributes the increase in diagnosis to be due to increased awareness.  There is also more widespread use of testing. Along with this positive news, Dr. Murray also noted an increase the number of persons from the studies who were following gluten free diet but were not  Celiac.  The number of those following a gluten-free diet increased from 0.5% to 1.7%.  Gluten is the new dietary "bad guy".  Before now it was fat and carbs. Now it is gluten. Many people are self-diagnosing. . There is a good portion of the population that is gluten sensitive but they would need to be more methodical in determining this.  To test out the theory that one is gluten sensitive, it would be necessary to identify a measurable outcome and document it. "Feeling more energetic" is not a measurable outcome.  If one chose bloating after a meal, it would be necessary to record instances and severity for about 6 weeks. If after gluten withdrawl for 6 weeks, symptoms decrease  the person may be gluten sensitive. The gold standard would be to reintroduce gluten and see if symptoms returned.