Growing Interest in Gluten-Free Diets

A rising number of individuals are opting for a gluten-free diet, despite the apparent stability in the prevalence of celiac disease in recent years, as revealed in an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine. Dr. Hyun-seok Kim and colleagues from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) conducted between 2009 and 2014. Among the 22,278 participants aged 6 and above who underwent celiac blood tests, 106 individuals (0.69 percent) had a confirmed celiac disease diagnosis, and 213 individuals (1.08 percent) adhered to a gluten-free diet despite lacking a celiac disease diagnosis.

These findings translate to an estimated 1.76 million people with celiac disease and 2.7 million people adhering to a gluten-free diet without having celiac disease in the United States. While the prevalence of celiac disease remained relatively stable (0.70 percent in 2009-2010, 0.77 percent in 2011-2012, and 0.58 percent in 2013-2014), the adoption of a gluten-free diet by individuals without celiac disease increased over time (0.52 percent in 2009-2010, 0.99 percent in 2011-2012, and 1.69 percent in 2013-2014), the authors note.

The study suggests a potential connection between these trends, proposing that the increased popularity of gluten-free diets among those without celiac disease might contribute to the stabilization of celiac disease rates due to reduced gluten consumption.

However, the study acknowledges limitations, including the small number of participants in NHANES identified with celiac disease or adhering to a gluten-free diet without celiac disease.

The article concludes that the growing interest in gluten-free diets among individuals without celiac disease may stem from various factors, such as the perceived health benefits, the expanding availability of gluten-free products, and self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity by some individuals.

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