Gluten-Free Obsession Linked To Unhealthy Weight Loss Fixation In Young Adults

A new study has claimed to an unlikely connection of gluten-free foods with the psyche of young adults, saying that these foods often lead to young people engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviours.

Gluten-Free Obsession Linked To Unhealthy Weight Loss Fixation In Young Adults


  • New study links weight control behaviour with gluten-free food obsession
  • Those who value gluten-free foods show unhealthy weight control behaviour
  • Gluten free foods have also been found to be high in mercury and arsenic
Going gluten-free has become a trend, especially in the West, where fear of the celiac disease has prompted a huge market for gluten-free food products and grains. However, in India, we still value our breads a lot, even though the urban population is slowly but certainly embracing gluten-free lifestyle. A slew of conflicting studies have been conducting on whether gluten-free is healthy or not. A new study has claimed to an unlikely connection of gluten-free foods with the psyche of young adults, saying that these foods often lead to young people engaging in some healthier and some unhealthy dietary behaviours. It says that young adults who value gluten-free foods have better dietary intake and also value food production practices, but there is one caveat- unhealthy weight- an unhealthy obsession with weight control.

The study has been published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and warned against the dangers of gluten-free products claiming to weight loss benefits, among other health benefits. The study said that gluten-free products have started appearing everywhere lately and people maybe lapping up all the fantastic claims made by these products, especially when there isn't enough information about the impact of these products on the general public's dietary habits. For the study, a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota looked at a sample of 1819 young adults between the ages of 25 and 36 and analysed whether their subjects valued gluten-free products, their weight goals, weight control behaviours, food production values, eating behaviours, physical activity and dietary intake.

It was found that among the sample, about 13 per cent valued gluten-free foods and those who did were more likely to food production practices like organic farming, non-GMO products that were locally grown and were not processed. However, accompanying this mindfulness was also an unhealthy weight control behavior and a preference for smoking, diet pills. So in effect, valuing gluten-free foods may be linked to an interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but it may also be linked to an obsession with losing weight through behaviours which were perceived as healthy, but are actually harmful. This unhealthy preoccupation with weight control was three times higher in young adults who valued gluten-free foods.

Lead investigator Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., MPH, RD, professor and head, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, USA said that she was concerned about the increasing number of people who believed that eating gluten0free food was akin to leading a healthy life. She also said that eating gluten-free foods may be a more socially acceptable dietary practice to lose weight, but it's not always a very healthy dietary habit. Neumark-Sztainer said that eating a variety of foods with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains was important for good health.

Another lead author Mary J. Christoph, Ph.D., MPH, postdoctoral fellow, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota pointed at yet another side-effect of this obsession with gluten-free foods- overconsumption of seemingly healthy food products. She said that while products that are lablled as 'low-sodium' and 'natural' maybe perceived as healthier by the general public, they may have unintended consequences on their eating habits, such as eating too much of these so-called healthy foods.

Here are some more drawbacks of going gluten-free:

1. Increased risk of Mercury poisoning: A study published in the journal Epidemiology last year found gluten-free products to have high levels of Mercury and Arsenic in them. This was due to the presence of rice flour in a number of these products- rice crop absorbs small amounts of these toxic metals from the fertilizers, soil and water.

2. Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart diseases: Whole grains have been found to be good for maintaining blood sugar levels and heart health. Completely taking a whole food group out of your diet may lead to an increased risk of diabetes and heart ailments.

3. Unnecessary burden on your pocket: Gluten-free food products tend to cost more than other food products, which may be an unnecessary burden on your pocket. If you suffer from celiac disease, then it's healthy for you eliminate gluten from your diet, otherwise it may do more harm than good.

4. Unhealthy weight loss: Eliminating gluten from your diet may lead to your body losing water weight, which may make you feel lighter for a while, but it's not the healthy way to lose weight.

(With ANI Inputs)