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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Overweight Kids Can Also Have Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 12/11/2015 - There's an idea, common among lay and medical people alike, that kids with celiac disease are skinny, and that overweight or fat kids can't have celiac disease.

    Photo: CC--GaulsstinA new study shows puts this idea to rest, and shows that celiac disease can in fact develop in kids who are overweight or obese. The study was conducted by a team of researchers including T Capriati, R Francavilla, F Ferretti, S Castellaneta, M Ancinelli and A Diamanti.

    Their study describes the nutritional status of a group of 445 children with celiac disease at presentation, and during follow-up on gluten-free diet. The children, all with biopsy-confirmed celiac disease, were prospectively enrolled at one of two Italian centers (Rome and Bari), and diagnosed between 2009 and 2013.

    Researchers used Body Mass Index as a measure of nutritional status according to Italian growth charts of Cacciari.

    Overall, males were far more likely than females to be overweight/obese. Furthermore, overweight/obesity children as compared with those with normal weight were significantly older and had significantly lower levels of tTG antibodies.

    This study shows that some celiac disease children are obese/overweight at diagnosis. So, even though it's more common for kids with celiac disease to be normal weight, doctors shouldn't rule out celiac disease in kids just because they're overweight or obese. In fact, celiac diagnosis is often missed in kids who are overweight.

    The takeaway from this study is that overweight kids can have celiac disease, and that celiac diagnosis must be considered even in overweight/obese children where this diagnosis can be easily missed.


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    Guest Catherine Becker

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    In our family the children were usually under weight until into their 20's. There are 13 siblings of which 4 are confirmed with celiac disease. (We are now all in our 60 & 70s. There are 14 celiac disease off springs and most of the were over weight when diagnosed.)

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    I was overweight since I was 8 months old and my mom took me to many different doctors and nurses asking what was going on. From 8 months old until I was 20 (2 years ago), I have been undiagnosed, obese, and stopped going to the doctors because they all said I was just fine but not exercising and eating too much junk. My mom never had junk in the house and I was very active. Playing basketball (3 yrs), swimming (4 yrs), gymnastics (2 yrs), and ballet (8 yrs) lessons. I had and hour of PE 5 days a week, and walked 2 blocks every morning. I ate right and was more active than my classmates and friends. My mom and I tried everything. Curves, WW, Jenny Craig, etc. I do not have any thyroid problems or diabetes or anything. 2 years ago (when I was 380 lbs), I self-diagnosed myself with celiac as I had almost 60 different symptoms according to a list I found. I slowly took out gluten and lost 100 lbs in less than a year, hardly exercising. I am so much better now and am actually passing college classes finally.

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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 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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