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    Do Teens with Celiac Disease Have More Eating Disorders?

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      We know that teens with celiac disease face challenges following a gluten-free diet. A recent study shows that teens with celiac disease may be at higher risk of developing eating disorders.


    Goldilocks - Eating Disorders. Image: CC--Daniela Brown
    Caption: Goldilocks - Eating Disorders. Image: CC--Daniela Brown

    Celiac.com 02/27/2019 - To avoid the chronic inflammation, discomfort and damage associated with celiac disease, celiac patients need to follow a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet. That can be a challenge for teens and young adults, as shown by a number of earlier studies. Some studies have indicated that the challenge of following a gluten-free diet can cause stress and raise the risk for disordered eating behavior in some people.

    Teens and young adults with disordered eating behaviors face a greater risk of developing full-blown eating disorders. To better understand the issues involved, a team of researchers recently set out to assess the incidence and risk factors for disordered eating behaviors among individuals with celiac disease, and to examine a connection between a gluten-free diet and disordered eating behaviors.



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    The Israeli research team included Itay Tokatly Latzer, Liat Lerner-Geva, Daniel Stein, Batia Weiss, and Orit Pinhas-Hamiel. For their Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study, the team submitted a personal and dietary survey that included questions on gender, age, weight, disease duration, along with two self-rating questionnaires that assessed disordered eating behaviors and adherence to a gluten-free diet: the Eating Attitudes Test-26 and the gluten-free diet questionnaire.

    They collected a total of 136 responses from celiac disease patients. They found in 7% of male and nearly 20% of female subjects. In general, patients who experienced disordered eating were overweight, older, and female. 

    About one in three patients reported strict adherence to a gluten-free diet, independent of age, disease duration, age at diagnosis of celiac disease, or being overweight.

    According to this data, a significant number of adolescents with celiac disease experience disordered eating patterns, especially those who are overweight, older and female. Extra attention to this issue might help to disrupt these patterns and to prevent them from becoming worse in the future. 

    Read more at Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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