Celiac Disease Dietary Adherence on the Rural-Urban Continuum

Nutrients. 2023 Oct 26;15(21):4535. doi: 10.3390/nu15214535.


Amy Posterick 1Candace L Ayars 1


Author information

1College of Graduate Health Studies, A.T. Still University, 800 W. Jefferson St., Kirksville, MO 63501, USA.


Poor adherence to a gluten-free diet for those with celiac disease is a well-established risk factor, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms, malabsorption of nutrients, and psychiatric complications. Previous studies have shown that those outside urban areas encounter unique barriers to dietary adherence and are less likely to engage in health management behaviors than those in urban regions. This study aimed to examine the relationship between gluten-free dietary adherence and individual, relationship, and community factors, including the geographic location of residence on the rural-urban continuum, for 253 adults with celiac disease living in the United States. Those with celiac disease residing in urban regions had significantly better dietary adherence than those residing in nonurban areas (p < 0.05). Those living in nonurban communities had, on average, poor enough adherence scores to suggest ongoing intestinal damage from gluten consumption. Geographic location, age, years since diagnosis, and annual income significantly predicted compliance with a gluten-free diet for those with celiac disease, accounting for nearly 20% of the variance. Those living outside urban areas with a lower income, younger age, and more recent diagnosis of celiac disease had the worst dietary adherence, placing them at the most risk for ongoing disease progression and complications.

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