Coeliacs spread the word on risk of undiagnosed food disease in children

Malta Gluten & Lactose-Free Week launched, with Sunday fair at Kennedy Grove bringing week of supermarket discounts to a close

Veggy Malta, in collaboration with the Coeliac Association Malta, is launching its second edition of the Malta Gluten & Lactose Free Week, taking place from Monday 15 May to Sunday 21 May.

Coinciding with International Coeliac Day on 16 May, the week-long event aims to raise awareness about Coeliac disease, gluten intolerance, and lactose intolerance, with a series of educational initiatives to provide valuable information and insights.

Participating supermarkets will offer exclusive discounts on gluten-free and lactose-free products, making it easier for individuals with dietary restrictions to access the products they need.

Emphasising the importance of early diagnosis in children, James Grima from the Coeliac Association Malta, said: “Our Association is dedicated to raising awareness about the significance of identifying Coeliac disease in children. We urge parents to be vigilant and test their children for Coeliac disease, especially if there is a family history. Early detection is crucial for their lifelong health and growth.”

It is estimated that first-degree relatives have a 1 in 10 chance of developing the disease themselves.

Coeliac disease is the most common food-related chronic disease amongst children in Europe, affecting 1% of children. Up to 80% of cases remain undiagnosed in children.

Despite being easy to detect and treat, diagnostic delays for coeliac disease can lead to children reaching 8 years before being diagnosed. “Achieving early diagnosis of coeliac disease is critical to ensuring good lifelong health and providing children with the ability to thrive,” Grima said. “Of great importance of getting children diagnosed is the fact that malnutrition can result in lack of growth.”

To wrap up the week, the Health and Green Fair will take place on Sunday 21 May at Kennedy Grove, where a family-friendly event will host a 100% gluten-free and lactose-free food court. Complimenting the event will be several market stalls showcasing a wide array of sustainable products and services by the community of Eco Market Malta.

“There will be lots of kids’ activities, free yoga sessions and talks for those seeking to deepen their knowledge regarding food intolerances, and general wellbeing. Entrance is free!” Grima said.

The Health and Green Fair will be from 10am to 6pm at the Kennedy Grove area, Salini Park in St Paul’s Bay.