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Cooking: Is Gluten Free a Fad? - Utica Observer Dispatch (blog)

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Cooking: Is Gluten Free a Fad?

Utica Observer Dispatch (blog)

A few weeks ago I wrote an extensive blog on what gluten free means and how it affects folks suffering from a digestive sensitivity or those suffering from celiac disease. With gluten free products showing up on the shelves everywhere in local markets ...

Is your problem gluten? Or faddish eating? Bismarck Tribune

Carly Q. Romalino: Gluten-free diets effective for Celiac's, but expensive Gloucester County Times - NJ.com

For millions, gluten-free lifestyle isn't a fad Burlington Times News

all 3 news articles »

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Review of above articles:

Carly Romanino's (Gluten free diets...) in Gloucester County Times - very good. Thank you.


Utica Observer Dispatch blog (Cooking: is gluten free a fad?) by Scott Tranter. Odd hiccup in the blog where several paragraphs repeat themselves several times. Factual mistake in the blog, cites Joseph Murray study saying about 1% of population has celiac disease, then says that "means... 2 million in the U.S. have celiac disease." 1% of 314 million is not 2 million, it is 3 million, so he is off by a factor of a third in the number of celiacs. Way to go, Tranter. He must have read the AP story below.

However, this in the same blog, is good-

Without getting into the controversy of how many are really affected with celiac disease or how many have gluten sensitivity, it is important as cooks that we are aware of the issue and are sensitive to the needs of those we cook for.

This is true of all food allergies, even possible food allergies. When in doubt, ask.


and now to the culprit being splayed out all over the internet:

Associate Press article ("Is your problem gluten? Or faddish eating?" http://bismarcktribune.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/is-your-problem-gluten-or-faddish-eating/article_9abc38b9-6790-5063-801f-69d1714b9ced.html ) in Bismarck Tribune - Writer should be forced to correct factual errors and issue retraction, Editor at AP is idiot, article is badly slanted to sound like another puff piece for the wheat lobby and keeps repeating that gluten free is a fad diet. Article ends with quote from health food store customer about "for her, it's a fad, It's part of the eclectic, alternative lifestyle."

Again, we see here the deliberate undercount of the Celiac population in the United States- 1% of 314 million population magically decreases to just 2 million. Which is wrong. 1% of 314 million is 3.14 million, or over 3 million celiacs in the USA.

Indeed, the research confirms estimates that about 1 percent of U.S. adults have it today, making it four times more common now than it was 50 years ago, Murray and his colleagues reported last week in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

That translates to nearly 2 million Americans with celiac disease.

more from this AP story

Faddishness is a big part of it. Americans will spend an estimated $7 billion this year on foods labeled gluten-free, according to the market research firm Mintel. But the best estimates are that more than half the consumers buying these products _ perhaps way more than half _ don't have any clear-cut reaction to gluten.

They buy gluten-free because they think it will help them lose weight, or because they seem to feel better, or because they mistakenly believe they are sensitive to gluten.

"We have a lot of self-diagnosing going on out there," said Melissa Abbott, who tracks the gluten-free market for the Hartman Group, a Seattle-area market research organization.

What this "faddishness" meme, being repeated by all these news organizations running the AP quotes refuses to acknowledge, is that many households with a diagnosed celiac, especially in the case of children and adolescents, are going to be purchasing MORE gluten free foods for the entire family, so as to be able to cook and eat meals together without the risk of cross contamination. This is not a "fad." This (inclusiveness) is both cultural, social, and good kitchen behavior, and it makes life easier and safer for the celiac.

The AP article further goes on to say this about Dr. Alessio Fasano, the U of Maryland researcher who has done groundbreaking work in getting gluten sensitivity (celiac symptoms without being celiac by biopsy, which improves on a gluten free diet) recognized as a legitimate disorder -

Fasano believes 6 percent of U.S. adults have gluten sensitivity. But that's based on a review of patients at his clinic _ hardly a representative sample of the general public.

Other estimates vary widely, he said. "There's a tremendous amount of confusion out there," Fasano said.

Yeah, there's confusion out there, alright. And the AP is helping that confusion. I have seen other articles this past week, on this topic, supposedly quoting the Mayo Clinic as saying that since 1% of the population may be celiac, that means there are .... 2 million celiacs in the United States. No, once again, 1% of 314 million is 3 million, and then there are the millions of non - celiac gluten intolerants. 6% more of that 314 million would be 18.8 million. But the words "Mayo Clinic" seem to have enough of a reputation that people don't THINK what is happening here when a wrong number is quoted.

3.14 million + 18.8 million = 21.9 million people who could benefit from a gluten free diet.

Is 22 million large enough of a number that it should be considered a legitimate health concern ? That's 7% of the population.

Or should it still be labeled a "fad diet ?" by the Associated Press and the wheat lobby ?

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