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Changing Bowel Habits in Celiac Disease--Before and After Gluten-Free Diet

Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 Dec;99(12):2429-36.

Celiac.com 02/27/2005 – In order to determine whether body mass index (BMI) may play a role in gut transit time in those with celiac disease, Swedish researchers conducted a study on 27 patients (16 female) with untreated celiac disease, both before and after a gluten-free diet. Detailed gastrointestinal transit times and BMI calculations were determined for each patient prior to the implementation of a gluten-free diet. Ten patients (5 female) were also studied after the implementation of a gluten-free diet. The researchers used a new radiological procedure to determine the exact transit times in each patient, and the results were compared to that of a control group of 83 healthy people.

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The findings of the study indicate that untreated male patients BMI was lower than that of healthy male controls, and their small bowel transit times were significantly slower (3.9 hours versus 2.5 hours). In the group studied after the implementation of a gluten-free diet patients BMI increased significantly, and small bowel transit times accelerated from 3.6 hours prior to dietary treatment to 2.3 hours after. For untreated females BMI did not differ significantly when compared to that of the healthy controls, but 31% of the female patients were overweight--and the small bowel transit times of this overweight female group were markedly shorter when compared to the lean untreated females.

The researchers conclude that: "Small bowel transit seems to be delayed in lean patients with untreated celiac disease. BMI may have some influence on the variations of small bowel transit before and after treatment."

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