Coeliac awareness at Worthing Hospital

MORE than 150 people turned out for a special coeliac awareness day at Worthing Hospital.

Just some of those who attended the event  W21521H13
Just some of those who attended the event W21521H13

Vistors had the chance to sample gluten-free food, get advice from dietitians and have their health questions answered.

Specialist dietitian Heidi Heddings said: “We can count the day as a success.

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“It is very important to raise awareness, as a high percentage of people have this disease but don’t know it, and so continue to cause damage to their systems.”

Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease where sufferers are intolerent to gluten – a type of protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

People who have the disease are advised to follow a life-long, gluten-free diet.

Clinically diagnosed coeliac suffers are entitled to a certain amount of gluten-free food on prescription. According to NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, one in 100 people are gluten-intolerent and, of these, only ten to 15 per cent have a clinical diagnosis.

If left undiagnosed, sufferers can experience stomach problems, prolonged fatigue, weight loss, anemia and damage to the small intestine.

At the event, there was a range of gluten-free food samples on offer, including pizza and cheesecake, contributed from Pizza Express, Dominos and Green Cuisine.

Supermarkets such as Sainsburys and Morrisons donated prizes for the raffle, which raised £72 for Coeliac UK.

Heidi added: “It was great to speak to people who would usually have to go through their GP to speak to a specialist about either their symptoms or their struggle with a gluten-free diet.

“It was the best part of the event – talking to people and seeing the concern in their face go away as we had a chat.”

Others who helped organised and run the event included specialist dietitian Charlotte Cheeseman, student dieticians Laura Boyle and Kate Hampshire, and co-ordinator of coeliac support group Bill Andrews.