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  • Destiny Stone
    Destiny Stone

    Celiac and Obesity - The Truth About Following a Gluten-Free Diet

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    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.

    The BMI of all test celiac patientswere compared to the general United States population. Using theregression model, the study found that there are obvious predictorsfor low BMI; patients classified as “classical” celiac,female, and with severe villous atrophy, were all revealed aspredictors for low BMI. These findings further exemplify that themost dramatic changes in BMI rates were in underweight females withceliac disease. Celiac females had a considerably lower mean BMIthan the general population, thereby indicating an importantassociation between females with celiac disease and low BMI. In fact,celiac females that tested with a normal or low BMI were also foundto have higher rates of critical villous atrophy than those with ahigher BMI. However, more males with celiac were found to beoverweight compared to the general population.

    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.

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    Just got diagnosed. This article could have been written about me. So grateful to have a diagnosis after being sick for so long with a laundry list of auto-immune disorders!

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    Which doesn't explain why the hell I GAINED weight after diagnosis, (both positive blood and biopsy), and continue to fight weight gain to this day. My initial diagnosis was confirmed only after a week of severe pain, diarrhea, and dehydration and the loss of 12pounds in 5 days. Since that time and going on the gluten free diet, I have gained 38 lbs. The only explanation I can offer is that I have other autoimmune disorders which are present but cannot be confirmed due to the lack of truly accurate testing procedures that are in use today. The doctors continue to suggest the possibility of scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, or lupis but nothing they can or will put a name to! The only other positive diagnosis is fibromyalgia which apparently is still quite the mystery to most medical professions.

    Medications, used to fight continuing symptoms, are the other probable cause of weight gain, i.e., medications used to fight those horrible cramps that suddenly hit because of an accidental gluten contamination. Or in the epidural shots that I need every 3 months due to severe back problems. How about the medical researchers work on that correlation. I'm really resent being told by medical professionals that I need to LOSE THE WEIGHT while not offering help as to how. Hey, I know... I'll just eat a piece of bread!!! That should do the trick don't ya think!!!

    Signed - Someone Who is sick and tired of being sick, tired in constant pain and depressed.

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    Which doesn't explain why the hell I GAINED weight after diagnosis, (both positive blood and biopsy), and continue to fight weight gain to this day. My initial diagnosis was confirmed only after a week of severe pain, diarrhea, and dehydration and the loss of 12pounds in 5 days. Since that time and going on the gluten free diet, I have gained 38 lbs. The only explanation I can offer is that I have other autoimmune disorders which are present but cannot be confirmed due to the lack of truly accurate testing procedures that are in use today. The doctors continue to suggest the possibility of scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, or lupis but nothing they can or will put a name to! The only other positive diagnosis is fibromyalgia which apparently is still quite the mystery to most medical professions.

    Medications, used to fight continuing symptoms, are the other probable cause of weight gain, i.e., medications used to fight those horrible cramps that suddenly hit because of an accidental gluten contamination. Or in the epidural shots that I need every 3 months due to severe back problems. How about the medical researchers work on that correlation. I'm really resent being told by medical professionals that I need to LOSE THE WEIGHT while not offering help as to how. Hey, I know... I'll just eat a piece of bread!!! That should do the trick don't ya think!!!

    Signed - Someone Who is sick and tired of being sick, tired in constant pain and depressed.

    I wonder if you also have an (undiagnosed) thyroid disorder, as they seem to run together? A thyroid diagnosis can also be difficult to get if in fact your doctor goes by TSH values only. I have Hashimoto's and am finally on meds (many docs won't treat Hashimoto's) due to hypothyroid *symptoms* and very high antibodies. Some symptoms have went away...EXCEPT the weight gain...which lead me here (and terrible nighttime stomach pain). My niece with a thyroid problem just lost considerable weight going gluten (and dairy) free. You may have more than one issue going on. I wish you the best.

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    Which doesn't explain why the hell I GAINED weight after diagnosis, (both positive blood and biopsy), and continue to fight weight gain to this day. My initial diagnosis was confirmed only after a week of severe pain, diarrhea, and dehydration and the loss of 12pounds in 5 days. Since that time and going on the gluten free diet, I have gained 38 lbs. The only explanation I can offer is that I have other autoimmune disorders which are present but cannot be confirmed due to the lack of truly accurate testing procedures that are in use today. The doctors continue to suggest the possibility of scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, or lupis but nothing they can or will put a name to! The only other positive diagnosis is fibromyalgia which apparently is still quite the mystery to most medical professions.

    Medications, used to fight continuing symptoms, are the other probable cause of weight gain, i.e., medications used to fight those horrible cramps that suddenly hit because of an accidental gluten contamination. Or in the epidural shots that I need every 3 months due to severe back problems. How about the medical researchers work on that correlation. I'm really resent being told by medical professionals that I need to LOSE THE WEIGHT while not offering help as to how. Hey, I know... I'll just eat a piece of bread!!! That should do the trick don't ya think!!!

    Signed - Someone Who is sick and tired of being sick, tired in constant pain and depressed.

    ColoradoSue - There are several meds used for fibromyalgia that most patients swear causes uncontrollable weight gain. Lots of docs don't acknowledge that side effect. Possible you may be on one or two of those? May be worth looking into. All our best to you!

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  • About Me

    I diagnosed myself for gluten intolerance after a lifetime of bizarre, seemingly unrelated afflictions. If my doctors had their way, I would have already undergone neck surgery, still be on 3 different inhalers for asthma, be vomiting daily and having chronic panic attacks. However, since eliminating gluten from my diet in May 2009, I no longer suffer from any of those things. Even with the proof in the pudding (or gluten) my doctors now want me to ingest gluten to test for celiac-no can do.

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