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Will Fickle Fad Dieters Kill Gluten-free Food Demand?
Celiac.com 12/12/2014 - Are celebrity claims of weight loss and improved health on a gluten-free diet driving people without celiac disease to temporarily inflate the market for gluten-free foods? Is that market headed for a downtrun if these people go back to gluten?
The market for gluten-free food has definitely gotten a boost from people looking to gluten-free food to help them lose weight or to improve their health, even though there is no good science to support such claims. More than half of the 90-plus million Americans who follow a gluten-free diet believe the diet to be “healthier” and more than one-quarter do so to lose weight. So what happens if these reasons are not borne out by science, or by experience? Will the market for gluten-free products begin to shrink?
Fassano thinks this is a possibility, saying that people who embrace “junk” reasons for following a gluten-free diet will likely not follow the diet for a lifetime. He explained that people without celiac disease or gluten-intolerance will only loose weight or become healthier if “they cut out pizza and donuts or other unhealthy foods made with gluten.”
There’s currently no hard evidence of a downturn in the demand for gluten-free food, but the high percentage of people eating and buying gluten-free for incorrect or whimsical reasons certainly has industry analysts a bit concerned. If a significant portion of those people switch back to gluten-containing foods, the market could see swift shrinkage, and many gluten-free products and offerings might disappear.
Certainly, people with celiac disease have benefitted from the explosion in gluten-free products, but has the gluten-free diet become too associated with fad dieters and celebrity health claims? Could reduced gluten-free demand have a negative impact on product options for people with celiac disease?
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Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams