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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    One in Three Americans Now Avoiding Gluten

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: CC--kabelphoto

    Celiac.com 04/05/2013 - One in three adults want to avoid or cut down on gluten in their diets, says a survey from the consumer research firm, NPD Group. NDP began asking consumers about gluten-free issues in 2009, and the responses for their January 2013 survey show the highest level of interest in gluten-free diets so far.

    Photo: CC--kabelphotoNDP's chief industry analyst, Harry Balzer, said in a recent press release that avoiding gluten is the "health issue of the day," and compared the current efforts to avoid or reduce dietary gluten to efforts a generation ago to avoid fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium.


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    Specifically, Balzer said: a "generation ago, health was about avoiding fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium in our diet. While those desires still exist for many, they no longer are growing concerns…Today, increasingly more of us want to avoid gluten in our diet and right now it is nearly 30 percent of the adult population...and it’s growing."

    Gluten-free foods are now a $4.2 billion a year industry, and interest has extended to the restaurant industry as well.

    NPD found that 200 million restaurant visits in the past year included a gluten-free order. “The number of U.S. adults who say they are cutting down on or avoiding gluten is too large for restaurant operators to ignore,” said Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst for NDP, in the same release.

    Currently, some three million Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease, which is now is four times more common than it was 50 years ago.

    While the rise in diagnosis and awareness of gluten-intolerance and celiac disease continues to fuel popularity of gluten-free diets, the supposed health benefits of eliminating gluten are also a factor.

    It is certainly true that some of this gluten-free diet trend has been triggered by pop culture and media celebrities, many of whom are not eating gluten-free out of medical necessity.

    Still, it's likely that the gluten-free trend will continue into the foreseeable future, at least. 

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    The proliferation of gluten-free products and gluten-free restaurant menus is great for me, a confirmed celiac since 2006. Gluten awareness was just taking off and there were few decent products and hardly any restaurants with gluten-free menus. I wonder if this popularity takes away the seriousness of the whole issue, with some people considering gluten-free just a fad and not a health issue. I have actually been asked in a restaurant with a gluten-free menu how gluten-free I was since my salad had been prepared on a non gluten-free board. Luckily, this time I was asked - how many other times has contamination happened and someone just shrugged it off? I find it better to say I am allergic - somehow that word seems to set off a bit of concern.

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    I found this article very interesting! More people need to take us seriously. I don't eat out because of my sensitivity to gluten and many other foods.

     

    Thank you for writing it.

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    I find it very hard to eat out. People don't realize when you have a gluten allergy it is most often not the only one, I am also allergic to MSG and lactose intolerant.

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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 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. 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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