Celiac.com 12/12/2014 - Are celebrity claims of weight loss and improved health on a gluten-free diet driving people without celiac disease to temporarily inflate the market for gluten-free foods? Is that market headed for a downtrun if these people go back to gluten?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Roland ScheicherThe market for gluten-free food has definitely gotten a boost from people looking to gluten-free food to help them lose weight or to improve their health, even though there is no good science to support such claims. More than half of the 90-plus million Americans who follow a gluten-free diet believe the diet to be “healthier” and more than one-quarter do so to lose weight. So what happens if these reasons are not borne out by science, or by experience? Will the market for gluten-free products begin to shrink?

Fassano thinks this is a possibility, saying that people who embrace “junk” reasons for following a gluten-free diet will likely not follow the diet for a lifetime. He explained that people without celiac disease or gluten-intolerance will only loose weight or become healthier if “they cut out pizza and donuts or other unhealthy foods made with gluten.”

There’s currently no hard evidence of a downturn in the demand for gluten-free food, but the high percentage of people eating and buying gluten-free for incorrect or whimsical reasons certainly has industry analysts a bit concerned. If a significant portion of those people switch back to gluten-containing foods, the market could see swift shrinkage, and many gluten-free products and offerings might disappear.

Certainly, people with celiac disease have benefitted from the explosion in gluten-free products, but has the gluten-free diet become too associated with fad dieters and celebrity health claims? Could reduced gluten-free demand have a negative impact on product options for people with celiac disease?

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