Celiac.com 03/08/2010 - Celiac, a genetic autoimmune disease, has long been associated with a medical picture of patients that lookunderweight, and malnourished. However, recent studies are findingthat obesity and a high BMI (Body Mass Index) may also be prominentin celiac patients. New studies were conducted to determine BMIchanges after initiation of a gluten-free diet, and they offer cluesto the importance of eating gluten free after being diagnosed withceliac disease.
Doctors at the Celiac Disease Center ofColumbia University studied the BMI of 369 patients proven throughbiopsy to have celiac disease, spanning from 1981 to 2007. Men andwomen were evaluated separately for the sake of this study and thetest patients were classified as “classical” meaning diarrheaprominent, or “atypical” meaning they had no diarrhea at the timeof celiac diagnosis. Atypical patients were further divided intogroups of 'anemia present' and 'no anemia present' at time ofdiagnosis. Body Mass Index was then categorized into four groupsbased on the criteria of the World Health Organization.
After initiating a gluten free diet,most BMI changes were shown to be directly associated with an initialbaseline appearance of “classical” symptoms. While on a glutenfree diet, over 50% of the overweight and obese patients lostweight, and of the group who initially had a low BMI, 42.4% attaineda normal weight. Thereby concluding that treatment of a gluten freediet after celiac diagnosis provides advantageouschanges in BMI results. Further evidence of the importance in earlydiagnosis and prompt treatment of celiac disease.
Of course it is critical to note that,all the patients utilized for this study were monitored closely by a care center dedicated to celiac disease, and continually followed byan experienced dietician with expert knowledge of celiac disease. And, while you may not be able to afford the kind of dietician thesepatients were provided with, it is always very important to be underthe care of a doctor or clinic dedicated to treating celiac disease,as well as to be receiving experienced dietary counseling whentransitioning to a gluten free diet.