Body Mass Index and Beneficial Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet
Concerns exist that people with celiac disease are overweight and may gain more weight as a result of gluten-free diets. This study sought to investigate whether body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight vs. height) is increased among people with celiac disease and the effects of gluten-free diets on BMI.
- Patients with celiac disease were evaluated at diagnosis and an average of 2.8 years later, and results were compared against a national database.
- Results suggested celiac disease and gluten-free diets did not increase risk of being overweight.
- Additionally, a gluten-free diet tended to have a correcting effect on BMI; 66% of people who were underweight gained weight on the gluten-free diet, and 54% of those who were overweight and 47% who were obese lost weight on the gluten-free diet.
- The authors concluded, “A gluten-free diet had a beneficial impact on BMI, underweight patients gained weight and overweight/obese patients lost weight.”
An improvement in BMI increases the need to diagnose celiac disease as quickly as possible and institution of a gluten-free diet under expert dietary counseling may provide an additional level of support for achieving optimum weight in addition to symptom improvement.