Study Shows Students, College Dining Services Need More Resources to Maintain Gluten-Free Diet

July 9, 2012

Study Shows Students, College Dining Services Need More Resources to Maintain Gluten-Free Diet


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Students report they are eager to maintain their gluten-free diet while attending college, but need more tools to overcome hurdles.

To better understand the needs of gluten-free students while living on a college campus, researchers surveyed 50 students, interviewed 21 and conducted a focus group with 7. Conducted by Rebecca Panzer MA, RD, LD and researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital, the study investigators learned that while students are eager to adhere to the gluten-free diet, they need assistance in facilitating communication with foodservice professionals and other students in social situations.

Conducted as the capstone to Panzer’s master’s degree in Health Communications from Emerson College in Boston, MA, the information gathered from the primary research resulted in the creation of the Gluten Free Guide to College. The guide was recently updated and helps students navigate the gluten-free diet while dining in cafeterias, cooking in dorm rooms and heading to social events. The resource is divided into three sections:

  • First Steps- outlines the people to talk to prior to attending school
  • Living On and Off Campus- discusses the logistics of living and eating in tight quarters
  • New Friends- outlines some of the social challenges gluten-free students may experience in the college environment

The updated version of the guide will be published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. NFCA is pleased to share the guide on as well.

NFCA encourages gluten-free students (and their parents) to browse more college resources at

Related Resources:

GREAT U: Digital Magazine for Gluten-Free College Students

Gluten-Free in College Blog Series

Gluten-Free Travel Site: Gluten-Free College Reviews