Wednesday, March 13, 2013


In the US a new fad by the name "Glutenphobia" seems to be emerging for reasons not easily understood. Whether people are being mis-educated by the gluten free food products industry which had invested billions of dollars in developing hundreds of new products devoid of gluten or due to genuine experience of feeling better by avoiding gluten is a mystery which has to be probed further. What is intriguing is why scientists are not coming forward to categorically say that Gluten is harmless to people without any history Celiac disease or bring out any fact that implies this protein in any other human ailment. WHO has a role in demystifying the confusion surrounding Gluten through transparent studies involving human beings. Here is a commentary on this crazy trend in the US which speaks volume about the unimaginable clout food industry enjoys to day!  

"Around the beginning of 2012 this thing starts to rise, and it has yet to peak," Balzer says. "Right now 29 percent of the adult population says, 'I'd like to cut back or avoid gluten completely.' "Indeed, he says, people in his biweekly survey of 1,000 people were more likely to say they're trying to go gluten-free than to say they're dieting. That's interesting, since less than 1 percent of people have celiac disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. Those people can't tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley. For them, avoiding gluten is the only way to avoid painful gastrointestinal problems and other symptoms caused by this autoimmune disorder. But if the other 28 percent of people don't have celiac, why are they trying to shun gluten? It could be that they're sensitive to gluten. As we've previously reported, a small number of studies have found that people who don't have celiac can still have difficulties digesting gluten. Or they could just think it sounds healthful.

Occasionally there are reports by individuals that their undefined or non-diagnosed  health problems are relieved by avoiding Gluten in their daily diet though such claims have no scientific basis. If gluten free food products are tastier or more appealing to the consumers, such facts should be brought to surface through scientifically controlled sensory studies. Of course it is very difficult to predict consumer behavior. The example of the so called energy drinks, loaded with caffeine which is doing roaring business in spite of reported deaths among those consuming this beverage, is an example of wrong consumer perception regarding connection between health and food. Or for that matter the defeat of the proposal in California for fair labeling of GM foods is still an enigma with no rhyme or reason! If the rising demand for gluten free products in the US is driven by the industry with vested interests claiming non-existing advantages, it is time this bluff is rebutted by those responsible for consumer well being.   


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