Consumers Have Mixed Feelings on Gluten-Free

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Consumers Have Mixed Feelings on Gluten-Free


ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Gluten-free is getting a lot of buzz lately, but a recent online Harris Poll of 2,205 U.S. adults shows that Americans have decidedly mixed feelings about the trend.

One-third (67 percent) of Americans are glad there are more gluten-free products available today than in the past, but almost nine in 10 (87 percent) think food manufacturers are taking advantage of the demand for gluten-free to overcharge consumers.

The majority of participants in the poll, which was conducted in October, believe gluten avoidance isn't medically necessary, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) agreeing that most gluten avoiders don't have to do so. There may be some basis for this belief, as only 3 percent of Americans report their household includes someone who's been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity/intolerance, and just 1 percent of households have someone diagnosed with celiac disease.

Still, 26 percent say their household avoids/limits gluten in some capacity.

Unsurprisingly, those with someone in their household who avoids/limits gluten are more likely to have a person with a diagnosed gluten sensitivity or intolerance in the house, compared with those who don't avoid gluten (11 percent vs. less than 1 percent).

However, 39 percent of Americans whose households avoid/limit gluten don't have anyone in the house with gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

"Undiagnosed" sensitivities are a little more common, with 5 percent of households having someone who suspects they suffer from a sensitivity or intolerance. Another 13 percent believe they or someone else in their household feel better when they avoid gluten, but don't think they have an intolerance.

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll, conducted by Rochester-based Harris Interactive, is one of the longest-running surveys measuring public opinion in the United States.