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39% of Celiac Disease Patients are Overweight at Diagnosis—A Full 30% are Obese
In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I foundedÂ The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.View all articles by Scott Adams
Celiac.com 11/29/2006 – Contrary to popular beliefs (not to metion outdated medical training), this study demonstrates that 39% of those who are diagnosed with celiac disease are actually overweight rather than underweight. A full 30% of celiac disease patients were in the obese range at the time of their diagnosis. Unfortunately many medical doctors still wont even consider testing overweight patients for celiac disease because they erronously believe that the disease can only occur in individuals who are underweight. This line of reasoning is outdated and incorrect, and is also very dangerous to those who happen to have celiac disease are are overweight—which is now known to be quite common.
For those who want to read more about this topic be sure to have a look at the following articles:
Below is the Abstract for the latest study, which was conducted by William Dickey, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.G.:
Am J Gastroenterol. 2006;101(10):2356-2359.
Overweight in Celiac Disease: Prevalence, Clinical Characteristics, and Effect of a Gluten-Free Diet
William Dickey, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.G.; Natalie Kearney, B.Sc.
Background: It is well established that a minority of celiac patients present with classic symptoms due to malabsorption. However, few studies have focussed on the distribution of body mass index (BMI) in celiac populations and its relationship to clinical characteristics, or on its response to treatment.
Methods: We reviewed BMI measurements and other clinical and pathological characteristics from a database of 371 celiac patients diagnosed over a 10-yr period and seen by a single gastroenterologist. To assess response to gluten exclusion, we compared BMI at diagnosis and after 2 yr treatment in patients with serological support for dietary compliance.
Results: Mean BMI was 24.6 kg/m2 (range 16.3–43.5). Seventeen patients (5%) were underweight (BMI <18.5), 211 (57%) were normal, and 143 (39%) were overweight (BMI =25), including 48 (13% of all patients) in the obese range (BMI =30.0). There was a significant association between low BMI and female gender, history of diarrhea, reduced hemoglobin concentration, reduced bone mineral density (BMD), osteoporosis, and higher grades (subtotal/total) of villous atrophy. Of patients compliant with a gluten-free diet, 81% had gained weight after 2 yr, including 82% of initially overweight patients.
Conclusions: Few celiac patients are underweight at diagnosis and a large minority is overweight; these are less likely to present with classical features of diarrhea and reduced hemoglobin. Failed or delayed diagnosis of celiac disease may reflect lack of awareness of this large subgroup. The increase in weight of already overweight patients after dietary gluten exclusion is a potential cause of morbidity, and the gluten-free diet as conventionally prescribed needs to be modified accordingly.
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