“Putting kids on gluten-free diets even if they don’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy may carry more risks than benefits” according to this journal. Before we go any further, what constitutes gluten free? A gluten free diet is where a person does not eat any wheat, rye or barley. Most reasons for this type of diet is due to celiac disease, which is an immune condition that makes people sick and less than 1% of people in the US have been diagnosed. Gluten free diets have become more popular in the last few years, and there is a lot of misconceptions about the nutritional value of them, especially for children.
There is no scientific evidence that a gluten free diet brings health benefits to people who don’t have celiac disease, a wheat allergy or a sensitivity. People do not take into account that gluten-free packaged foods are more likely to be higher in fat and sugar than gluten products. A gluten free diet means no breads, no fried foods, and no baked goods, sounds extremely healthy right, except for the fact that any of those items gluten free will be more processed because of the ingredients that are made in place of wheat. Dietitian Dr. Norelle Riley mentioned that many gluten free-foods are not fortified with vitamins and minerals, and following this diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
I am one of the less than 1% of the United States population that has celiac disease, and I didn’t get diagnosed until I was a senior in high school. I completely agree with this journal and the study that was done. I get frustrated when people go gluten free because they want to “lose weight”, it’s actually at times harder to eat healthy being gluten free because the premade meals are so high in sodium. Or parents that are into fads and trends think that a gluten free diet can prevent celiac disease, there currently isn’t a link between the two. If a child grows up on a gluten free diet, and they don’t know if they are allergic, their parents just made a decision for them, they could potentially end up having an extremely bad reaction and they wouldn’t know what to do. I think that unless young children are presenting with symptoms of a gluten allergy or has been diagnosed with one they shouldn’t abide to this diet. It is expensive and has the potential to make a child feel socially isolated because of the strict food restrictions, although now thankfully, there are increasingly more restaurants that offer gluten free options. If there are parents or even adults that are intrigued by a gluten free diet, I really would encourage them to do the research and to not believe all the misconceptions.