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  • Jefferson Adams

    Metabolic Syndrome in Patients with Celiac Disease on a Gluten-free Diet

    Jefferson Adams


    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 04/06/2015 - Several studies have shown that many patients with celiac disease experience changes in body weight after starting a gluten-free diet, but researchers still don't have much data on rates of metabolic syndrome in this population.

    Photo: CC--Samantha MarxA team of researchers recently set out to assess rates of metabolic syndrome in patients with celiac at diagnosis, and at one year after starting gluten-free diet. The research team included R. Tortora, P. Capone, G. De Stefano, N. Imperatore, N. Gerbino, S. Donetto, V. Monaco, N. Caporaso, and A. Rispo. They are affiliated with the Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, University Federico II of Naples, Naples, Italy, or with the Department of Education and Professional Studies, King's College London, London, UK.



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    For their study, the team enrolled all consecutive patients with newly diagnosed celiac disease who were referred to their third-level celiac disease unit. For all patients the team collected data on waist circumference, BMI, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels.

    The team diagnosed metabolic syndrome according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria for European countries. They reassessed rates of metabolic syndrome in patients after 12 months of gluten-free diet.

    The team assessed ninety-eight patients with celiac disease, two (2%) who fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome at diagnosis, and 29 patients (29.5%) after 12 months of gluten-free diet (P < 0.01; OR: 20).

    After 1 year on a gluten-free diet, the team compared the patient data to baseline, with respect to metabolic syndrome sub-categories. They found 72 vs. 48 patients exceeded waist circumference cut-off (P < 0.01; OR: 2.8); 18 vs. 4 patients had high blood pressure (P < 0.01; OR: 5.2); 25 vs. 7 patients exceeded glycemic threshold (P = 0.01; OR: 4.4); 34 vs. 32 patients with celiac disease had reduced levels of HDL cholesterol (P = 0.7); and 16 vs. 7 patients had high levels of triglycerides (P = 0.05).

    The results of this study show that celiac disease patients have a high risk of developing metabolic syndrome 1 year after starting a gluten-free diet.

    To address this, the research team recommends an in-depth nutritional assessment for all patients with celiac disease.

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    That sounds exactly like me...keeping in shape was so much easier when I ate gluten. Now I need to really watch out for what I eat even if I practice a lot of sport... And whenever I have a short breakout in my diet (1-2 days and with not a lot of gluten - I don't jump suddenly on a loaf of bread) I suddenly loose all the water in my organism and get much leaner.

    BTW. the article would be even better if it had more factual information about the study.

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    Since being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004 to this year, I have gained 40 lbs. I also have Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis in the L4and L5 that requires shots every 3 to 4 months. My doctors as well as others that politely suggest I should lose weight. Wish I could! These medical issues interfere every hour of every day by increasing pain levels that at times leaves me in bed or living room couch. I'm buying clothes from goodwill just to have something to wear. I am just sick and may I dare say... TIRED from hurting day in and day out. And taking pain meds which expensive. Which reminds me, time for mine.

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    I agree with Iwona -- the article would have been more helpful if it had more info about the study. I've gained almost 30 pounds since I was diagnosed and my Dr says, "Eat less and exercise more!" HAH! I'm at my wits end! I've tried lo-carb and Paleo diets, they are OK, but I still don't lose!

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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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