Coeliac Society of Ireland launches Coeliac Awareness Week to take place nationwide 8th to 15thMay
The Coeliac Society of Ireland has developed a free, online self-assessment tool which will be launched during the Society’s Coeliac Awareness Week. Awareness Week 2017, which is supported by Irelands leading grocery retailer SuperValu, takes place nationwide between 8th and 15th May.
When members of the public visit www.isitcoeliacdisease.ie or via the coeliac.ie website, users of the tool will be asked a number of questions relating to their current health. If they match to some of those of coeliac disease, they will be encouraged to seek a medical diagnosis and provided with supporting information they can bring to their GP. The tool has been developed as a result of public misconceptions about coeliac disease.
As well as the launch of the tool, a range of events will take place nationwide to mark the week, including a campaign in conjunction with GPs and pharmacists to raise awareness of the symptoms of coeliac disease and a series of in-store events at SuperValu stores around Ireland, including dietetic talks, advice from the Coeliac Society of Ireland and gluten free food samplings.
Commenting at the launch, Fergal O’Sullivan, CEO of the Coeliac Society said, “There is a lot confusion among the public about coeliac disease, what its symptoms are, and how to treat it. Coeliac disease can have many symptoms, often including subtle ones, such as chronic tiredness, that may not be initially associated with the disease.
“Our new self-assessment tool will allow anyone to quickly check their symptoms to see if they are similar to those of people with coeliac disease. However, it is absolutely essential that anyone who suspects they may have coeliac disease presents themselves to a medical professional for diagnosis.”
Faces of Coeliac Disease
The theme of this year’s Awareness Week is ‘The Faces of Coeliac Disease’. A number of the ‘faces’ joined the Coeliac Society of Ireland at the launch of the campaign, including 60-year-old Billy McCann. Billy was diagnosed with coeliac disease over 10 years ago, after suffering from an upset stomach that would not go away, a loss of appetite and weight loss. Commenting on his diagnosis, Billy said: “Once I gave up gluten, the change I saw in myself was almost instantaneous. I had not realised it until this point how fatigued I had been for the previous 50 years. I now have more energy at 60 than I ever had at 20.” Also at the launch was cookbook author and surfer, Finn Ní Fhaoláin, who has coeliac disease.
During Awareness Week, the Coeliac Society will be highlighting the fact that coeliac disease can occur at any stage in life, and is a life-long condition. Coeliac disease affects an estimated one in every 100 people in Ireland.
Commenting further, Mr. O’Sullivan said: “Coeliac disease can affect anyone at any stage of their life, and once you are diagnosed as coeliac, it’s a life-long condition for which there is no cure. The only treatment is to follow a gluten-free diet, and this Coeliac Awareness Week, we want to highlight the fact what people with coeliac disease are able to live healthy, active and fulfilling lives, like Finn and Billy.”
Gluten Free Promise
As part of Coeliac Awareness Week, the Society is calling on supermarkets to commit to stocking eight gluten free staples in store. SuperValu is the first to sign up to the initiative, and the Coeliac Society of Ireland is calling on other supermarkets nationwide to join them.
James Bruen, Trading Manager – Health & Wellness for SuperValu, was also present at the launch and said: “At SuperValu, we are committed to ensuring all of our customers’ needs are met, including those with coeliac disease. We have committed to provide at least eight staple food products that are gluten-free, to ensure our customers with coeliac disease have choices available to them. We’re delighted to be sponsoring this year’s Coeliac Awareness Week to help to raise awareness of coeliac disease and to be able to show people with coeliac disease that there are a wide range of products available to them – their lifestyle and eating habits do not need to be restricted”.
What is Coeliac Disease?
Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease that prevents those affected from digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The disease can manifest itself at any stage in a person’s lifetime, with symptoms including abdominal pain, recurring mouth-ulcers, weight-loss, vomiting and diarrhoea. It is estimated to affect 47,500 people in Ireland.
For the full programme of events for Coeliac Awareness Week 2017, visit: www.coeliac.ie and