The only current treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet. Because of this, there is an overall heightened sense of awareness of food intake in the celiac population that can lead to disordered eating habits, such as avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). A recent study found that ARFID is common among people with celiac disease, and concluded that additional study into the social and food impacts on people with celiac disease is needed to prevent nutrient deficiencies and long-term detrimental eating behaviors.

Of the 137 adult celiac patients who completed the ARFID survey, 78 patients (57%) met the suspected ARFID criteria. There were no differences in age, gender, body mass index (BMI), nutrient deficiencies, or bone disease in those with or without ARFID. Patients with ARFID did not have better adherence to a gluten-free diet compared to non-ARFID patients, and upon follow-up biopsy, patients with ARFID did not differ in intestinal healing.

People with celiac disease may achieve disease control with a gluten-free diet, but can also suffer psychosocial consequences related to the gluten-free diet. Research shows that celiac patients have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and a higher risk of developing eating disorders. The study authors state that there was no distinct difference in disease control between those with or without suspected ARFID, suggesting that the patients suspected of having ARFID were being more restrictive than necessary to maintain a healthy gluten-free diet.

This study draws attention to the high prevalence of restrictive eating in patients with celiac disease, and the research supports the development of a survey tool that can be used to screen for suspected ARFID in celiac patients. Identification of patients who struggle with this disorder can guide physicians and dietitians in dietary and behavioral management.

Are you interested in participating in celiac disease research? Add your data to our iCureCeliac® patient registry today. iCureCeliac® is a free, online database for patients, or their caregivers, to provide critical insights into life with celiac disease. Your participation will help create better diagnostic tools and treatments for cross-contact and gluten consumption, governmental policy changes, and access to new and innovative clinical trials nationwide, which may, one day, cure celiac disease.