For a lot of people, gluten-free diets are more trend than treatment, a new study shows.
The study estimates that 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease. Another 1.6 million are on gluten-free diets, the recommended treatment for celiac disease. Yet there's almost no overlap between the two groups.
"So here' we've got this kind of irony where those who need to be on [a gluten-free diet] aren't on it, because they don't know they have it. And those who are on it probably don't need to be on it, at least from a medical point of view," says researcher Joseph A. Murray, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "It's a little frustrating."
The study is based on data collected through the government's NHANES survey, which takes regular snapshots of the health of the U.S. population.
Celiac disease is a disorder that's triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye.