Celiac disease in numbers in Italy and worldwide


Celiac disease in numbers in Italy and worldwide – 

In the last decade, national and global data on Celiac disease have grown significantly, thanks to more correct and effective diagnoses. But we are only faced with a tip of an iceberg that, in time, is showing (and will continue to show) in all its greatness.

In fact, it’s calculated that, in the Italian territory, the coeliac patients diagnosed are only about 30% of the real total which, on the contrary, could be represented by a much larger number than what we know until today.

If you want to find out more precise data on Celiac disease and the number of people forced by this disease to follow a constant gluten-free diet, read our article.

Celiac disease in numbers in Italy and worldwide

When this article was written, taking into account the data for the first half of 2018, the number of celiac patients diagnosed in Italy exceeded 200,000 by a few thousand. A figure in constant growth that sees an average annual increase of about 9%, only within our nation.

However, the real significant figure is represented by the number of undiagnosed people, whose estimate is well over of 400,000 units.

Distribution of Celiac Disease in the Italian RegionsCeliac disease in numbers in Italy and worldwide
Distribution of Celiac Disease in the Italian Regions

Since the new diagnostic follow-up came into force, there has been a significant increase in the number of diagnoses, partly thanks to greater public awareness, but above all thanks to research and constant development by the entire sector specializing in food allergies and intolerances.

Until the 1980s, celiac disease was considered a rare disease, confined to the European area and, for the most part, associated only with the age group from 2 to 18 years. However, numerous and increasingly precise studies have revealed, already at the end of the ’80s, a very different reality, which only with the new millennium has assumed the “relevance” that we know today.

Of all the “permanent” diseases, celiac disease is the one with the highest incidence and affects both children and adults. The numbers, both in Italy and in the rest of the world, show us that women are the most affected (on average, 60-65% of diagnoses are female).

Celiacs in Italy by ageCeliac disease in numbers in Italy and worldwide
Celiacs in Italy by age group

An interesting fact is represented by the different distribution that celiac disease has, depending on the geographical area studied.

In fact, it’s estimated that in Italy the number of people suffering from celiac disease (diagnosed or not) is about 1% of the population, for a total of more than 600,000 people. The figure is to be considered in line with the European average, even if, going on to evaluate Nation by Nation, it’s possible to realize that in countries such as, for example, Germany the incidence drops to just under 0.3%. Proportions similar to the Italian one can also be found in England, Spain e France; while a greater incidence is found in Northern Europe, with peaks of up to 3%.

Celiac disease in numbers in Italy and worldwideCeliac disease in numbers in Italy and worldwide
Celiacs percentage in the world

In the rest of the world, too, the distribution of coeliac disease among the population varies from State to State. In America, as in Australia, the percentage is always around 1%, but in Mexico, things change a lot and we go to more than double. The incidence in Asian countries is low and very low in Japan, where the cases diagnosed are a small number, which obviously does not “benefit” those who, for work or pleasure, find themselves visiting these territories.

But what is the reason for the discrepancy in this data?

The answers are actually manifold, but mainly we can shift the attention to two main factors. The first is closely linked to the genetic heritage of each population. Since genetic differences between populations such as Mexico, for example, are not particularly “marked”, it was deduced that a greater incidence may have been caused, over time, by the type of infant feeding, by particular forms of intestinal infections, as well as by the conformation of intestinal flora of celiac subjects.

Another relevant factor could be related to the type of diet of the place and the way in which this could affect a different development of this disease, over several decades.

Pane a lievitazione rapidaIt also seems that a fundamental role is played by the growing spread of “reworked” cereals and by increasingly shorter rising times for the production of dough and bread. This would also explain a greater annual increase in the number of subjects diagnosed, in those areas that make extensive use of these cereals, first of all, Europe and America.

Celiac Disease Symptoms


2 commenti

  1. Federico Costa ·

    Salve, sarebbe eventualmente possibile avere la fonte di questi dati ai fini di una ricerca universitaria? Grazie.

    • Viveresenzaglutine ·

      in realtà le fonti di questi dati sono molteplici. La maggior parte provengono da associazioni nazionali (chiaramente non solo italiane), alcuni dati sono ripresi da dei libri del Prof. Fasano e altri ancora sono stati estrapolati da ricerche effettuate a cura dell’ISS (per correttezza, nota che i dati dell’articolo fanno riferimento al 2018 e non sono stati riaggiornati per i successivi anni).

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