Placing children on a gluten-free diet without consulting a physician could be damaging to their health, medical experts warn.
Gluten-free diets are critical for people living with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which ingesting gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — leads to damage in the small intestine. There is no treatment available for the disease and currently the only therapy is adhering to a gluten-free diet.
An estimated 1 percent of Americans live with celiac disease. That number has been growing in recent years — likely because of increased awareness and improved detection. However, that increase does not account for the explosive growth of the gluten-free food industry. Millions of people now shun gluten even though there’s no medical reason for them to do so.
A recent survey of more than 1,500 adults in the U.S. found that the most common motivations for going gluten-free were “no reason” and the belief that it’s somehow a “healthier option.”