Friday, October 06, 2006

Celiac Disease - on CBS Evening News today

I was at a friend's house earlier today, and we had the TV on, and I was suddenly surprised to see on CBS primetime evening news a rather substantial spot about the medical condition of Celiac, entitled deciphering a common disease. They featured a couple particular medical cases, as well as discussed how as many as 3 million persons in the USA may have it and not know.

I wanted to talk about it on my gluten free blog in case anyone that wanted to see the footage missed it. The link above goes to the text version of the show, and here is a link to the
Video URL for the CBS NEWS segment on Celiac Disease

Overall the story was great, especially in the sense of raising awareness of the disease. I take issue with a few of the things in the story, but perhaps it is due to the time-allotment that certain things were bypassed/omitted.

Some of the things I didn't particularly care for:
  • When the child said "no" to the question about, is there anything that she can't get gluten free that she would like to eat, I couldn't help thinking "yeah, right!". Especially since many of those commercial products at the gluten-free store are really not that good. I think they have come a ways, but are (generally) a long way off from being up the quality standards the general public applies to their normal (non-GF) foods. And yes, it's too bad it is not so easy as going to the "gluten free store" for a solution to everything, but perhaps someday it will be... we can all hope.
  • Next, they talked about how there is a blood-test for Celiac, but as we all know, that is not exactly considered the "gold standard" that an endoscopic duodenal biopsy is. Guess the latter didn't sound too appealing for the evening news.
  • They certainly didn't give much attention to the GI (Gastro-Intestinal) issues the disease causes, especially the gross details of what gluten consumption does to anyone that has Celiac. They simply wrapped it as "stomach pain" or discomfort or such. Once again, the whole details would probably gross out too many viewers.
The clip did have enough information to provide some basic education on Celiac and Gluten Intolerance though, and for that I am plenty thankful. The education aspect of the show is quite valuable.

When the show came on at my friend's house, it was a bit ironically coincidental to all of us. He and his wife were just over to our place for dinner for the first time a few days earlier - where we served GF foods, and though we discussed CD/GF some, I don't think they grasped how widespread it is and so forth. My friend's wife had just walked in the door from work, and her husband says "you won't believe what is on the news... after Mike just talked about it this weekend". Then, when the news story discussed how the one young girl they featured nearly died from it, I think it really sank in how insidious this disease can be. And, it suddenly seemed to go from this unheard of condition that just I happen to be afflicted with, to something that really does exist out there in the public at large in a percentage substantial enough to merit prime-time TV discussion. I feel these two friends are now in tune with the situation -- and that is two more that otherwise may not have known.

If awareness leads to progress towards a cure, or better diagnoses, better gluten free foods, or anything else positive, that is what matters. Keep the awareness coming!

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