A gluten-free diet could actually raise the risk of obesity, study reveals

Gluten may not be so bad.
(Image credit: iStock)

Contrary to what the hordes of celiac disease-free Americans going gluten-free may suggest, ditching gluten isn't a promised path to good health and a beach body. A new study presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition revealed that a gluten-free diet might actually "increase the risk of obesity," The Guardian reported.

The conclusion is based on an extensive comparison between gluten-free foods and gluten-filled foods:

The team found that, on average, gluten-free bread loaves had more than twice the fat of conventional loaves, while gluten-free breads in general had two to three times less protein than conventional products. Gluten-free biscuits were also found to be lower in protein but higher in fat, while gluten-free pasta had lower levels of sugar and just half of the protein of standard pasta. [The Guardian]

This isn't the first study to cast doubt on the gluten-free diet hype. Benjamin Lebwohl, from the celiac disease center at Columbia University, told The Guardian that a gluten-free diet is in no way "intrinsically healthy or unhealthy." Other studies have suggested that gluten-free food is about the same nutritionally speaking as foods containing gluten.

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At the end of the day, David Sanders, a gastroenterology professor at the University of Sheffield, said that unless you're part of the 1 percent of the population actually affected by celiac disease, it's probably best not to arbitrarily avoid gluten. "Once you go into the territory of dietary restrictions without medical symptoms then you are running the gauntlet of missing out on various vitamins or minerals without realizing it," he said.

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