Morning Show Star Faces Backlash for ‘Deeply Concerning’ Remarks

Morning Show Star Faces Backlash for ‘Deeply Concerning’ Remarks

This Morning has faced criticism from a celiac charity for the way it depicted the condition in a pre-Christmas advice segment. Broadcaster Vanessa Feltz joined hosts Josie Gibson and Craig Doyle on the Monday, Dec. 18 episode of the British morning chat show for an advice segment.

A caller explained that her Christmas dinner was causing tension because a family member insisted that everyone eat gluten-free so that one person with coeliac disease could be accommodated; Feltz said, “I’m 100% on your side on this. This is absolutely ridiculous.” Continuing, the presenter described the situation as “unreasonable,” referring to the caller’s 15-year-old child being “a fussy eater,” according to Digital Spy.

“On balance, you’re pretty much going to have to go with it. Have a snack on the way there, bring something to eat in the car on the way home, don’t stay too long, but don’t fall out with your mother-in-law over a bit of gluten, that’s what I think. Or the lack of gluten,” Feltz added.

During Tuesday’s “Ask a GP” segment with Dr. Zoe Williams, the show addressed the issue once more. “Can we just clear up something from the phone-in yesterday?” Doyle began. “A lot of people are asking if we could clarify things with information about coeliac disease.”

An overview of the autoimmune condition was provided by Dr. Williams, who explained: “It’s a reaction to gluten, and some people with coeliac disease can have a very sensitive reaction – so even just the smallest little trace of gluten can actually damage, in the long term, their small intestine, and cause really severe sickness and illness.

“So I think, especially around Christmas time, for some people, it can be a time when they really did need to ask their relatives and loved ones who they’re gonna be spending time with to make a few changes to accommodate them so that they don’t get sick.”

In an effort to learn more about “how serious [the condition] could actually be,” Doyle said he decided to do his own research. The condition “affects around about one in a hundred people,” said Dr. Williams, and many with the condition go undiagnosed.

“It’s important, I think, that as many people as possible know about the condition because, actually, they do require the community around them to help keep them safe,” she added.

In addition, Gibson asked about cross-contamination risks. According to Williams, those with coeliac disease “who have a very sensitive reaction” may be advised to use separate appliances, such as chopping boards or toasters, when sharing a home with someone who doesn’t have coeliac disease in order to minimize cross-contamination risks.

As Coeliac UK states on its website concerning cross-contamination, “even tiny amounts of gluten may cause people with coeliac disease to have symptoms in the short term, and gut damage long term.”

On X (formerly known as Twitter), Coeliac UK expressed its disappointment at the television portrayal of the condition, calling it “damaging” and “inaccurate.” “Today on ITV‘s @thismorning, coeliac disease was discussed during a phone-in segment on the show,” its post read.

“We are deeply concerned about the content and advice given to a caller attending a Christmas family event where all of the food will be gluten free to protect the health of a person with coeliac disease. We are actively following up with ITV.”

“In the meantime we ask you to contact This Morning to ask them to give an apology to our gluten free community on air for this damaging and inaccurate information, and to engage with Coeliac UK to ensure their information is accurate in future.”

As well, Becky Excell, the ambassador for Coeliac UK, criticized the segment in her blog, writing that it included “all of your favourite gluten-free stereotypes,” such as “gluten-free people are just being difficult,” “coeliac disease doesn’t need to be taken that seriously – it won’t kill you” and assumed that “gluten-free food isn’t nice.”

Excell also wrote in her blog that “following a gluten-free diet due to Coeliac disease isn’t a choice.” Moreover, she posted “Ask a GP” to her social media on Tuesday and invited feedback.

Many of the commenters on the website noted that they wanted to see the show go further with its response, with some urging This Morning to issue an apology for the first segment on air, as requested by Coeliac UK.


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