A new study has found a gluten-free diet is "unaffordable" for the average Australian, with some gluten-free items costing up to 500 per cent more than their glutenous counterparts.
Researchers from the University of Wollongong compared the cost of a basket of gluten-free foods with a traditional food basket among four family types - a nuclear family, a single parent family, a single elderly woman and a young single man.
The study was published in the Dietitians Association of Australia's journal Nutrition & Dietetics.
"We also looked at what proportion of their disposable income they'd have to spend on food to afford that diet," one of the researchers who conducted the study, dietitian Kelly Lambert, told news.com.au.
"If you spend more than 25 per cent of your disposable income on food, it's considered unaffordable, and in almost every family type the gluten-free basked was unaffordable," Ms Lambert said.
"The nuclear family spent 40 per cent of their disposable income on food, the single adult male spent 75 per cent and the single mum spent 30 per cent."
Some gluten-free items cost up to five times more than regular ingredients. Gluten-free wraps were 316 per cent more expensive and flour was 574 per cent more costly.
"It's really a very expensive diet to follow," Ms Lambert said.
"For people who have coeliac disease [about one per cent of the population] they need to follow this diet for medical reasons. They have no alternative - they have to spend that money.
"I can understand how they would become irritated by people who eat gluten-free foods but don't need to."
A recent study by Allied Master Chemists of Australia Limited found one in four Australians between the ages of 25 and 34 consume only gluten-free meals, but only a small percentage of those suffer from coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance.