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Scientific study: diet improves perception of health and well-being in symptomatic, but not asymptomatic, patients with celiac disease

September 2011 | 5 min read


This study compared the impact of a gluten-free diet on self-perceptions of health and well-being in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with celiac disease. Patients showing symptoms, as well as patients identified only through screening, were included in the study. 

Key Points

  • A survey including questions about overall health, well-being and quality of life was administered before and after initiating a gluten-free diet.
  • Results suggested that a gluten-free diet resulted in significant improvements in self‑perceptions of health in both patients with classic symptoms, as well as those identified through screening.
  • All patients were equally concerned about their health before receiving the diagnosis, and anxiety was alleviated by the gluten-free diet.
  • At diagnosis, the quality of life was reduced among all patients, but then improved on the gluten-free diet. However, among a group of asymptomatic patients, perception of health worsened and concern about health increased while they were on the diet.

The authors concluded, “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.”

Key Takeaways

It may be counter-productive to institute large-scale screening for celiac disease because of the negative effects on perceptions of health and well-being among asymptomatic patients diagnosed with celiac disease. Other clinical outcomes from celiac disease, such as bone fractures and nutritional deficiencies, may play an important role in case-by-case screening strategies and self-perceived impact on quality of life. 


Ukkola A, et al. Diet Improves Perception of Health and Well-being in Symptomatic, but Not Asymptomatic, Patients With Celiac Disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2011; 9:118–123.