Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lindsey Ellerson Report on ABCNews.com

News Report on Prevalence Studies; GMA Story on Being GF

Yesterday ABCNews.com producer Lindsey Ellerson posted "Living With Celiac Disease: One Woman's Story." Subtitled "Gluten Intolerance Increasingly Common, According to New Mayo Clinic Study," the article covers a lot of ground: It profiles Vanessa Maltin, reports on the recent Mayo Clinic study on prevalence and mortality, and includes the very important message, "Celiac disease now affects nearly one percent of the U.S. population, [Dr. Joseph] Murray told ABC News, but the vast majority of people living with celiac disease, do not know they have it."

Also of note is the tag line for the article: "The author of this article was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004." So hey, Ms. Ellerson (right): Thank you for being "out" as a gluten-free newsperson!

Ellerson shared her own story in the May 9, 2007 Reporter's Notebook article "Top Chefs Support Gluten-Free Living."
My personal experience with celiac disease involved only unprovoked fainting spells that occurred periodically during my third year of college while studying abroad in London.

After numerous unexplained episodes of passing out on the Tube, at the Tower of London and while touring Trafalgar Square, I flew home for some medical tests.

I soon learned I was so severely anemic that I would require a blood transfusion if I wanted to return to England to complete the semester. I remained in the United States and after three months of dizziness, lack of energy and nausea, doctors were able to make the diagnosis of celiac disease.
The online package also includes a May 12, 2009 Good Morning America segment on "What you can eat if you have to go gluten-free." I'm not so keen on this tie-in with Elisabeth Hasselbeck's book The G-Free Diet featuring dietitian Ashley Koff (described as "a contributor" to the book). It's not hard to see connections, as Koff, like Hasselbeck, seems very eager to broaden interest in being gluten-free to a very broad audience, as if finding the millions of undiagnosed people with celiac disease wouldn't be enough of an achievement at the moment. True, Koff says that people curious about their symptoms should see their physicians ("that's critical")...but then she goes on to talk about autism, sensitivity, and intolerance—subjects that aren't necessarily likely to get much validation from conscientious physicians at this time. Like Hasselbeck, Koff also tries to seize on a weight-loss angle for the diet. Furthermore, she touts a probiotics line that she works with, vaguely explaining that it is the only one "clinically shown to address all of the digestive problems." It all adds up to overselling, in my opinion.

Let's hope that, with informed newspeople like Lindsey Ellerson, ABC will develop and retain sources such as Dr. Murray and dietitians affiliated with celiac disease centers and not feel as much of a need to build up The G-Free Diet, which is more of a ABC celebrity book than a reliable health book.


Ed said...

David, you don't have a public e-mail address - would you be willing to contact questionsgfcf@gmail.com with your address so we can send you a press release about a new Gluten Free Casein Free Menu Planner produced by a Colorado nurse practitioner?

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I was surprised with this because I read something related to a rare disease, I'd like to know more about it, by the way I was astonished with the woman in this article.

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It was an amazing report, very well detailed and with some really good insights, one of her best works so far.

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