Celiac.com 08/27/2012 - Because so many patients are now overweight upon diagnosis for celiac disease, and so fee present as classically underweight, doctors are revising the clinical presentation guidelines for celiac disease diagnosis.

Photo: CC--fbellon1That being said, some researchers have voiced concern that some patients might gain further weight while on a gluten-free diet.

Recently, a team of researchers conducted a study to assess the impact of a gluten-free diet on body mass index (BMI) in a nationwide group of celiac patients and to isolate any variables that might help to predict favorable or unfavorable BMI changes.

The research team included Anniina Ukkola, Markku Mäki, Kalle Kurppa, Pekka Collin, Heini Huhtala, Leila Kekkonen, and Katri Kaukinen. They are affiliated variously with the School of Medicine, University of Tampere, and the Department of Gastroenterology and Alimentary Tract Surgery at Tampere University Hospital, both in Tampere, Finland.

To assess weight and disease-related issues, the researchers looked at 698 newly detected adults who were diagnosed with celiac disease by classical or extra-intestinal symptoms or by screening.

The researchers measured BMI upon celiac diagnosis and after one year on a gluten-free diet. They then compared the results against data for the general population.

Study data showed that 4% of patients were underweight at celiac diagnosis, 57% were normal weight, 28% were overweight and 11% were obese.

On a gluten-free diet, 69% of underweight patients gained weight, while 18% of overweight and 42% of obese patients lost weight. BMI remained stable for the other patients.

Both symptom- and screen-detected celiac patients showed similar results. The patients with celiac disease showed a more favorable BMI pattern than the general population.

The most favorable BMI changes were seen in patients with self-rated gluten-free diet expertise, along with those who were younger upon diagnosis. Dietary counseling did not seem to impact .

The initial method of detection does not seem to matter for people with celiac disease who are following a gluten-free diet. Both screen-detected and symptom-detected celiac disease patients who followed a gluten-free diet showed similar improvements in body mass index (BMI).

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