Gluten Avoidance is Outpacing Diagnosed Sensitivities

New York , N.Y. – November 24, 2014 – Recently it’s become nearly impossible to walk through a grocery store or look at a restaurant menu without seeing the words gluten-free emblazoned on every other package and page. In a world filled with fad-diets and both medically and self-imposed dietary restrictions, what do Americans think of this gluten-free phenomenon?

A majority of Americans tend to believe gluten avoidance is not a medical necessity, with nearly two-thirds (64%) agreeing most people who avoid gluten don’t need to. In fact, they might be on to something with this suspicion, as just 3% of Americans report their household has someone who has been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity/intolerance and only 1% has someone diagnosed with celiac disease. However, 26% state their household avoids/limits gluten in some capacity.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,205 U.S. adults surveyed online between October 15 and 20, 2014.

Not surprisingly, those who state their household avoids/limits gluten are more likely to have someone with a diagnosed gluten sensitivity or intolerance in the house, compared to those who make no effort to avoid gluten (11% vs. <1%). However, 39% of Americans who state their household avoids/limits gluten in some capacity do not have anyone in the house who feels any negative effects when consuming gluten.

Undiagnosed sensitivities are slightly more common, with 5% of households having someone who suspects they may have a sensitivity or intolerance. Another 13% say they or someone else in their household feel better when they avoid gluten, but don’t believe they have an intolerance.

Conflicting Opinions on Availability of Alternatives

One-third (67%) of Americans agree they are glad there are more gluten-free products available today than there used to be. However, nearly nine-in-ten Americans (87%) agree food manufacturers are taking advantage of the gluten-free trend to overcharge consumers.

A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving?

Nearly 39 million Americans [1] 16% of adults 18 and older, are expecting to see gluten-free substitutions at their Thanksgiving Day meals this year. Predictably, those in households who avoid/limit gluten are more likely to anticipate substitutes than those in households making no effort to do so (42% vs. 7%).

So what’s on the gluten-free menu? Among those planning a fix, gluten-free pies/desserts are the most common substitution (70%), followed closely by gluten-free stuffing (66%), rolls/bread (65%), and gravy (59%). Nearly half of respondents (48%) state they will make/purchase these substitutes themselves, followed by a family member in their household (34%).

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TABLE 1

GLUTEN AVOIDANCE (SELF) SUMMARY

From the following statements, please select the one which best describes your behavior in regards to consuming gluten.

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

%

I make no effort to either limit or avoid consuming gluten.

77

I avoid/limit gluten (NET)

23

I try to limit the amount of gluten I
consume.

12

I try to avoid consuming gluten
when I can.

8

I completely avoid consuming
gluten.

3

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

GLUTEN SENSITIVITY (SELF)

By Gluten Avoidance (Self)

And which of the following most accurately describes you.

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Gluten Avoidance (Self)

Avoids/ Limits (NET)

Avoid Completely

Avoid when I can

Try to limit

No effort

%

%

%

%

%

%

I don’t feel any negative effects when I consume gluten.

84

41

32

44

47

96

I don’t believe I have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but I feel better when I lessen or avoid gluten.

11

33

20

37

37

3

I suspect I may have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

3

9

9

9

12

1

I have been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

2

14

29

9

4

*

I have been diagnosed with celiac disease.

 *

3

10

1

*

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Note: * represents less than 1%


TABLE 3

GLUTEN AVOIDANCE – SELF OR OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS (NET) SUMMARY

From the following statements, please select the one which best describes your behavior in regards to consuming gluten.

And thinking about members of your household other than yourself, please select which for the following statements are true for at least one person. Please select all that apply. At least one person in my household (not including myself)…

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

%

No one in household makes any effort to either limit or avoid consuming gluten.

74

Someone in household avoids/limits gluten (NET)

26

Someone in household tries to limit the amount of gluten they consume.

17

Someone in household tries to avoid consuming gluten when they can.

11

Someone in household completely avoids consuming gluten.

4

Note: Multiple responses allowed


TABLE 4

GLUTEN SENSITIVITY – SELF OR OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS (NET)

By Gluten Avoidance in Household

And which of the following most accurately describes you.

And thinking about members of your household other than yourself, please select which of the following describe at least one household member. Please select all that apply. At least one person in my household (not including myself)…

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Gluten Avoidance in Household

Avoids/ Limits (NET)

Avoid Completely

Avoid when I can

Try to limit

No effort

%

%

%

%

%

%

No one in my household feels any negative effects when they consume gluten.

81

39

24

33

38

96

Someone in household doesn’t believe they have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but they feel better when they lessen or avoid gluten.

13

41

32

45

45

3

Someone in household suspects that they may have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

5

18

26

23

21

1

Someone in household has been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

3

11

33

14

9

 

Someone in household has been diagnosed with celiac disease.

1

5

27

4

3

 

Note: Multiple responses allowed

Note: represents less than 1%


TABLE 5

THANKSGIVING SUBSTITUTES

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, do you expect that your Thanksgiving meal will include gluten-free ‘fixes’ or substitutions for any of the following? Please select all that apply.

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Gluten Avoidance (Household)

Avoids/ Limits (NET)

Avoid Completely

Avoid when I can

Try to limit

No effort

%

%

%

%

%

%

Any (NET)

16

42

71

51

39

7

Pies/Desserts

11

27

55

34

23

6

Stuffing

11

28

43

36

25

5

Rolls/Bread

11

24

41

25

22

6

Gravy

10

23

51

27

21

5

Casseroles

6

17

31

22

17

3

Beer

5

13

33

19

14

3

Something else

4

10

26

10

10

2

N/A – don’t celebrate Thanksgiving

3

3

4

2

2

3

None of these

63

29

13

24

32

75

Don’t know

18

26

12

23

27

15

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 6

THANKSGIVING SUBSTITUTES

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, do you expect that your Thanksgiving meal will include gluten-free ‘fixes’ or substitutions for any of the following? Please select all that apply.

Base: Anticipate Gluten-Free Fixes

Total

%

Pies/Desserts

70

Stuffing

66

Rolls/Bread

65

Gravy

59

Casseroles

40

Beer

33

Something else

25

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 7

SUBSTITUTE PREPARER/PURCHASER

And who will most likely prepare or purchase gluten-free fixes or substitutions for the Thanksgiving meal? Please select all that apply.

Base: Anticipate Gluten-Free Fixes

Total

%

Myself

48

A family member from my household

34

A family member who is not a member of my household

20

Someone else in my household (non-family)

9

Someone else who will be attending the same Thanksgiving meal (not family, not a member of my household)

8

Don’t know

15

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 8

ATTITUDES TOWARD GLUTEN AVOIDANCE

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Base: U.S. Adults

Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

Food manufacturers are taking advantage of the gluten-free trend to overcharge consumers.

87

37

49

13

10

3

I’m glad there are more gluten-free products available today than there used to be.

67

17

50

33

20

13

Most people who avoid gluten don’t need to.

64

18

46

36

29

7

Note: Multiple responses allowed


TABLE 10

GLUTEN AVOIDANCE (OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS)

And thinking about members of your household other than yourself, please select which for the following statements are true for at least one person. Please select all that apply. At least one person in my household (not including myself)…

Base: Lives with Others

Total

%

No other members of my household make any effort to either limit or avoid consuming gluten (regardless of whether or not I do personally).

83

At least one person avoids/limits gluten (NET)

17

…tries to limit the amount of gluten they consume.

10

…tries to avoid consuming gluten when they can.

6

…completely avoids consuming gluten.

3

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 11

GLUTEN SENSITIVITY (OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS)

And thinking about members of your household other than yourself, please select which of the following describe at least one household member. Please select all that apply. At least one person in my household (not including myself)…

Base: Lives with Others

Total

%

No one in my household (not including myself) feels any negative effects when they consume gluten.

88

…doesn’t believe they have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but they feel better when they lessen or avoid gluten.

7

…suspects that they may have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

4

…has been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

2

…has been diagnosed with celiac disease.

1

Note: Multiple responses allowed


TABLE 12

LIVING SITUATION

Now we’d like you to think about something different. Do you live with any of the following? Please select all that apply.

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

 

My spouse or romantic partner

61

My own children or children I share responsibility for

28

My parents or those of my spouse/partner

11

Roommate(s)

6

Extended family (e.g., grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles, etc.)

5

I live alone

18

Note: Multiple responses allowed


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between October 15 and 20, 2014 among 2,205 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #105, November 24, 2014

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.



[1] Calculation based on 16% of 242.5M adults ages 18+ (242.5 x .16 = 38.8M), per U.S. Census 2013 Population Estimates