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Expert Weighs in on Gluten-Free Diets

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The gluten-free industry has grown by 135 percent from 2013 to 2015

Dr. Norelle Reilly, assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center, weighs in on the gluten-free “trend” that has become increasingly popular as of late in a study titled “The Gluten-Free Diet: Recognizing Fact, Fiction, and Fad.”

The commentary documents a 135 percent growth in the gluten-free industry from 2013 to 2015, with an estimated sales of $11.6 billion in 2015. Though the prevalence and awareness for celiac disease has increased, the gluten-free industry has grown by a disproportionate amount, Food Navigator details.

Amanda Topper, senior food analyst at Mintel, says, “While some consumers view the gluten-free diet as a fad and are looking for improved nutrition and ingredients in gluten-free foods, consumption continues to trend upward.”

Reilly uses an evidence-based approach to addressing inaccuracies in consumers’ perception in the benefit of gluten-free diets. She points to a lack of data supporting “the presumed health benefits of a gluten-free diet,” countering that she believes the opposite is true, particularly in cases where people follow these diets without consulting a registered dietitian or physician.”

In conclusion, Reilly says that a gluten-free diet “should be recommended judiciously” and those self-prescribing should speak to a professional regarding “possible financial, social, and nutritional consequences of unnecessary implementation.”

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