The percentage of Americans who follow a gluten-free diet is three times higher than the percentage of Americans with celiac disease
More people are following gluten-free diet in U.S. despite lack of robust evidence to avoid gluten, according to a new research.
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It is possible that increased numbers of people avoiding are gluten because food containing gluten like wheat, barley and oat are linked to the rise of celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, in which consumption of gluten damages the small intestine and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients properly.
Surprisingly, the percentage of people in U.S. with celiac disease remained stable between 2009 and 2014 but the percentage of Americans who are eating gluten-free diet increased steadily over that time period. Precisely, the percentage of Americans who follow gluten-free diet is more than three times higher than the percentage of Americans who are having celiac disease.
Gluten-free diet appears to be a trendy way to deal with gastrointestinal problem even if people have no symptoms of the disease.
"People may believe a gluten-free diet is healthier, and the diet is trend.” Lead author Dr. Hyunseok Kim, of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark said in a statement.
To see whether the prevalence of celiac disease and the use of gluten-free diet increased over the past few years, researchers analyzed the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2009 and 2014. Those surveys involved 22,278 adults and children over the age of 6 who had blood tests for celiac disease. Participants were also asked whether they had been diagnosed with celiac disease or were following a gluten-free diet.
Overall, 0.7 percent of participants were diagnosed with celiac disease but 1.08 percent were eating gluten-free diet despite not having celiac disease.
Based on these numbers, researchers estimate that there are around 1.76 million people with celiac disease in the United States but a total of 2.7 million people are following a gluten free diet, which is more than the number of people actually diagnosed with the disease.
Where we can say that the consumption of gluten-free diet has increased over time despite no rise in celiac disease, it is also possible that decreased gluten consumption could be contributing to the plateau in celiac disease.
Researchers believe an array of factors have fueled the rise of gluten-free diet including public perception that it may be healthier, easy availability and affordability.