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Struggling coeliac families in need of gluten free food

Media release
9 December 2016

Struggling coeliac families in need of gluten free food

Coeliac New Zealand has seen a sharp rise in impoverished families needing gluten free food – but are unable to afford it.

The non-profit organisation has launched a fundraising campaign to help coeliac families struggling to make ends meet.

“Imagine struggling to provide food, clothing or shelter for your children. Add to that having to provide gluten free food, which can be difficult to source and up to 500 percent more expensive than comparable gluten-containing food,” says Carl Sunderland, general manager of Coeliac New Zealand.

Sunderland says he’s consulted with several food distribution centres and they don’t have the resources to provide gluten free food to coeliacs.

“We acknowledge this may not seem like a big deal to the average person, but coeliac disease is a serious issue. People suffer from symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and joint pain.

“Understandably these struggling families are grateful for any support they receive, including gluten containing food, as their primary concern is that their kids don’t go hungry. But this means many are suffering from terrible health issues that could easily be managed with a gluten free diet.”

There is no cure for coeliac disease and often a gluten free diet is the only way to avoid the crippling symptoms. Coeliac disease is hereditary, however both genetic and environmental factors play important roles in coeliac disease.

It is currently estimated that 60,000 to 70,000 New Zealanders have coeliac disease (1 in 70), however up to 80% of those are unaware they have the condition.
“Coeliac New Zealand believes gluten free food should be available to everyone with coeliac disease so that’s why we’re providing gluten free food hampers to support Kiwi families in need,” says Sunderland.

In light of the recent earthquakes Coeliac New Zealand has urgently sent hampers to coeliac families in affected areas.

How people can help:

• To donate to Coeliac New Zealand’s appeal and find out more information visit
• Food distribution centres can get in touch with Coeliac New Zealand and let them know if they’re in need of gluten free food
• Gluten free manufacturers can help by donating products directly to Coeliac New Zealand who will ensure it’s given to those who need it most

About Coeliac New Zealand
Coeliac New Zealand is a national non-profit organisation based in Auckland with regional support group leaders based around the country. It supports those with coeliac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and those on a gluten-free diet through education and collaboration with gluten free manufacturers, medical professionals and supports research. Coeliac New Zealand was established in 1973.

Facts on Coeliac Disease
• 65,000 Kiwis have coeliac disease.
• 80% of people don’t know they have the condition.
• Coeliac disease is a serious condition that can be diagnosed at any time.
• Coeliac disease is a lifelong auto-immune disorder.
• Coeliac disease damages the gut lining and ability to absorb nutrients.
• Incidence is increasing (as are all auto-immune diseases).
• Can cause crippling symptoms such as, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting and joint pain.
• May have no overt symptoms at all.
• If left undiagnosed or if gluten continues to be consumed, coeliac disease can cause infertility, poor growth and calcification of teeth and bones in children, multiple nutrient malabsorption, links with depression and occasionally bowel cancer.

© Scoop Media

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