As Celiac.com so rightly points out, weight loss is considered a common sign of undiagnosed celiac disease. After all, the intestines of a person who is erroneously eating wheat are not going to absorb nutrients, and at least in theory food is going to pass through them much quicker / without time to be digested.
And, of course, there are all the other GI troubles that are often linked to undiagnosed celiac disease / accidental glutening – among them one that starts with a big D. So, when a team of researchers set out to look at Body Mass Index at the time of celiac diagnosis, it would seem logical that they would find a high rate of thin people.
It would have, at least…but of course this isn’t what they found at all.
The study looked at records from 187 people diagnosed between 1999 and 2009, mostly females. Of these people, 44% – that’s 83 people – had a BMI of 25 or higher, which is considered overweight. If you’re unfamiliar with BMI, it’s a number representing the ratio of height and weight. You can calculate yours here.
Of those 83 people, 25 had BMIs of 30 or above, indicative of obesity. Compared to the males in the study, females had a wider range of BMI and were also more likely to be obese at the time of diagnosis.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that BMI isn’t necessarily the best indicator of health. Two people of the same height and weight can still have very different overall levels of fitness, can still look very different, etc. etc. However, that’s neither here nor there.
Instead, the biggest takeaway has to be a reminder that there is no such thing as a “typical” celiac. If you know someone who doesn’t think they need to get tested because they aren’t underweight, you’ll want to send this study to them straightaway!
Were you underweight (or overweight) when diagnosed? How did your weight change, after you’d been on a gluten-free diet for a year?