[Editor’s Note: Originally published October, 11, 2012]
Lately, it seems like more and more celebrities and professional athletes are openly talking about going gluten free. Whether it’s due to a diagnosis of celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, or simply because they want to get healthy, many of them have noted a weight loss as part of the benefits they’ve been seeing. Then why is it, that so many doctors and specialists will dismiss a diagnosis of celiac disease in a patient simply because the patient is not underweight?
In a recent article by Sonia Kupfer, MD, the belief that people with un-diagnosed celiac disease are all underweight is revealed to be a misconception.
Kupfer states that, while most doctors have been trained to recognize celiac patients as being underweight, relatively few doctors consider this diagnosis a possibility for patients that are overweight or obese. It turns out, that being overweight is a large issue for many patients diagnosed with celiac disease. Kupfer noted that, “It may be surprising…to realize that while celiac disease classically presents as malabsorptive diarrhea and weight loss, between 22-32%, or up to one in three of US adult celiac patients, are overweight or obese.” One in three…
This realization led to a study that came out of the University of Chicago entitled High Prevalence of Overweight and Obese Adult Celiac Patients in the Midwestern United States. This study found that 38% of the sample of patients (258) were either overweight or obese, 56% had a normal BMI (body mass index), and only 5.4% were underweight, “a condition,” Kupfer says, “that many healthcare practitioners erroneously consider essential to a celiac diagnosis.”
With this study’s findings and the many public claims of positive weight loss by gluten-free celebrities and athletes, there is the hope that if a patient presents symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, a test or a diagnosis will be given, regardless of the patient’s weight.