It’s one of the most fashionable food fads out there, but it seems the NHS are enjoying a generous slice of the gluten-free pie. They’ve managed to spend £116 million on foods without gluten in a single year (according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre), after 211,200 prescriptions were issued by doctors last year requiring the diet.
That’s not to say that you’ll be served Hemsley Hemsley’s courgetti with red pesto from your hospital bed. Much of the spending has allegedly been on gluten-less junk food, including biscuits, doughnuts, pizzas and burger mixes – making your 2am post-club Dominoes seem sort of acceptable.
What gluten free mean anyway? It’s an absence of the protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. So sadly toast is off the cards, but thankfully muesli is also out. Doctors sometimes prescribe gluten-free food to coeliac sufferers.
However, it appears the NHS is guilty of shelling out for unhealthy snacks too. A spokesperson for the department of health said: “The NHS offers world-leading care, but it wasn’t founded to prescribe chocolate biscuits and cakes, especially given the damage we know obesity can cause.”