No Evidence That Gluten-Free Benefits Everyone


We have seen celebrity after celebrity going gluten free for the purposes of losing weight recently and it’s driving a lot of us who need to keep to a strict gluten free diet for serious medical reasons pretty nuts!

For this reason it’s nice to get back up from researchers that there really is no evidence that a gluten free diet would benefit the general population who don’t suffer from health issues related to eating gluten or wheat.

Arizona State University professor Dr. Glenn Gaesser is an exercise physiologist and advisory board chairman of Grain Foods Foundation. He says that there is no evidence at all that a gluten free diet is effective for weight loss and it may even lead to weight gain as a result of eating gluten free equivalents to gluten containing foods as many of these contain more sugar and saturated fat.

“While the gluten free diet is an important medical treatment for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, far too many Americans are following the diet for reasons that simply do not make sense.” 

A packaged Facts survey which was carried out in 2010 found that only 8-12% of consumers buying gluten free products were buying them because they had to as a result of themselves or someone in their household being unable to eat gluten or wheat. Worryingly 46% of consumers questioned in this survey were buying these products are they perceived them are healthier whilst another 30% were buying them for weight management reasons.

Despite these figures, there is not evidence that a gluten free diet is healthier than a ‘normal’ diet or that it will help with weight loss.

“Even though it has been endorsed by celebrities for weight loss, let’s face it – they are not experts on nutrition and health. It’s time to listen to the science.” says Gaesser.

Post authored by The Gluten Free Traveller.

4 thoughts on “No Evidence That Gluten-Free Benefits Everyone”

  1. The Atkins diet resulted in a large number of people discovering their gluten sensitivity. I expect the current fad behavior will likewise precipitate more gluten sensitives. Personally, I don’t think gluten is good for many, many more people than celiacs and DH sufferers. I don’t believe medicine knows that much about the root causes of the many auto-immunune diseases. I think food reactivity will be the root cause of them all.

    Medicine will often say “there is no evidence that (insert your annecdotal evidence here) is true”… such is what we’re hearing about the GF diet and weight loss. Stated another way is they have no study that proves the supposition. But I think you have to also consider they have no study that proves it doesn’t, either. The absence of a study proves nothing and supports nothing.

    The GF diet won’t hurt anybody if they are sensible. If they aren’t sensible, they can’t be helped, anyway.

  2. “Arizona State University professor Dr. Glenn Gaesser is an exercise physiologist and advisory board chairman of Grain Foods Foundation.” A little conflict of interest, perhaps? You might at least note that. Many of us were told until very recently that non-celiac gluten-sensitivity didn’t exist.

  3. We were also told for years that we couldn’t have grain alcohol, vinegar, caramel coloring, etc when in fact most of those are fine (always check to be sure). We are also currently being told conflicting information about the reliability of the various testing methods, the “safe” upper limit of gluten ppm, and the survivability of gluten during certain chemical processes (e.g. – gluten in beer that’s made with barley but doesn’t test positive for gluten after brewing). Unfortunately all too much of the information we rely on is anecdotal postings on message boards or relayed by fellow sufferers (e.g. “don’t eat X because i did one time and got sick” – with no evidence if sick because it contained gluten, because you’re a hypochondriac, because you’re allergic to ten other things, the list goes on). It’s a shame that there isn’t more reliable information on the whole, including regarding the benefits or lack thereof of a gf diet for non-celiacs.

  4. Actually conflict of interest may be there, but I agree that more need to know that Gluten Free eating is NOT just a ‘fad’ or a choice. For one thing, it will help those of us who need it get more respect getting our needs met. Also, there are costs and efforts at avoiding gluten that most do not need to deal with.

    Reducing gluten will happen naturally with healthy eating choices— the old whole grain versus refined grain issue would probably help more people than gluten free. For example, oatmeal is a very healthy food but not gluten free. Gluten does not always correlate to empty carbohydrates.

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