Is joking about incurable disease the new black?

Imagine a world where "Chronic obesity is the new black" was a signpost to WeightWatchers ready meals.

Or perhaps "Diabetes type I is the new black" was the slogan accompanying some sugar-free chocolate.

I wonder whether we're a step closer to such crassness after this was posted on Twitter yesterday by a clearly unimpressed Miss Doozer.

The food service outlet in question is called UGOT, and the picture is from Newcastle station.

Others added to Miss Doozer's dissent. To his credit, UGOT's founder Joe addressed it at once. He wrote: "I am a 22 year old with gluten intolerance who created this brand to allow others who share in my frustration at the lack of a healthy & accessible variety of gluten free products [sic] and hopefully make light of a somewhat challenging situation".

Lorna Kellett argued that it reinforces the "dangerous beliefs in the catering industry that all people are GF mainly because it's trendy".

I fear she's right. I fear it plays into the hands of sceptics who from time-to-time go on the attack at those on restricted diets.

It's important to point out that UGOT received possibly as much support as criticism: some have argued that the sign raises the profile of coeliac disease - and even I have to acknowledge that this certainly does help bring the word 'coeliac' into the mainstream, which might not be such a bad thing. "I don't think this is the easy road for companies and (they) should be supported," said Danny Hughes.

I think 'Gluten free is the new black' might have been acceptable to many. The line implies gluten free is fashionable or faddy. And it is. Many without any gluten-related disorder use gluten free as a method for weight loss, one which is not recommended by dietitians and has no evidence in support of it - and that's the definition of a fad, right there.

But coeliac is an autoimmune disease, with no cure. I wonder whether this may backfire for what seems to be a young company, who look to be offering some terrific free from options at a location where many 'on the go' coeliacs and other food sensitives may really need them.

"We are trying to give a platform to encourage those with intolerance to embrace it and allow them to live a tastier lifestyle," UGOT told another objector.

I'm not sure over-intellectualising something as relatively straightforward as providing food to people who want to buy food really helps their cause. I'll stick my neck out and suggest that coeliacs - who have more than a mere 'intolerance' - don't particularly want a platform on which they can embrace their food sensitivity. They just want to have tasty, healthy and safe options when going about their business like everybody else.

Meet that need well, UGOT, and it'll be you who is the new black.

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