The psychology of food

Gluten-free diet - hope or hype?

Walk into the local grocery store and you’re likely to find an array of products with the words “gluten-free” splashed across the label. Everything from cereal to frozen pizza to pasta — and even water — is getting the gluten-free treatment.

According to a recent survey, 30 percent of Americans said they were cutting down or avoiding gluten altogether. And yet, only four percent of the population needs to avoid eating gluten for health reasons. While the general perception is that a gluten-free diet is good for your health, recent research has shown that it may not actually be.

In an effort to understand the gluten-free phenomenon — which is generating more than $15 billion in sales annually — ASU Now spoke with three Arizona State University professors who have studied the diet. They offer their observations on the nutritional value of going gluten-free, the food industry’s reaction to the craze and the psychology behind why so many people have adopted the diet.

Source: PhotoshopTofs

There is no clear evidence that avoiding gluten offers any health benefits for the majority of the population

Carol Johnston

For the 96 percent of the population without celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity, going gluten-free amounts to very little, said Carol Johnston, professor and associate director of the Nutrition Program in the College of Health Solutions. “There is no clear evidence that avoiding gluten offers any health benefits for the majority of the population.”

Lauren Chenarides, assistant professor in the Morrison School of Agribusiness in the W.P. Carey School of Business, said the money-making potential of gluten-free products is too great for food suppliers to ignore. “They don’t want to miss out on the market,” which is projected to continue its upward trajectory both in the United States and internationally.

According to Glenn Gaesser, professor in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, College of Health Solutions, the gluten-free diet’s global rise in popularity is due to influential endorsements, clever marketing and wishful thinking, rather than scientific backing. “It’s the placebo effect,” he said. “If you tell someone that this is the problem and if you get rid of it you’ll feel better, they likely will feel better.”


Source: Arizona State University (ASU)

From left to right: Carol Johnston, Lauren Chenarides, Glenn Gaesser
From left to right: Carol Johnston, Lauren Chenarides, Glenn Gaesser

02.12.2017

Read all latest stories

Related articles

Photo

Finding the connection

Can air pollution lead to psychosis in teens?

Research from King’s College London provides the first evidence of an association between air pollution and psychotic experiences in adolescence. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, provides a…

Photo

Restored brain waves

Brain stimulation improves depression symptoms

With a weak alternating electrical current sent through electrodes attached to the scalp, UNC School of Medicine researchers successfully targeted a naturally occurring electrical pattern in a…

Photo

Some problems remain

Some children can 'recover' from autism

Research in the past several years has shown that children can outgrow a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), once considered a lifelong condition. In a new study, researchers at Albert…

Related products

Eppendorf – Mastercycler nexus X2

Research Use Only (RUO)

Eppendorf – Mastercycler nexus X2

Eppendorf AG
Sarstedt – Low DNA Binding Micro Tubes

Research Use Only (RUO)

Sarstedt – Low DNA Binding Micro Tubes

SARSTEDT AG & CO. KG
Shimadzu – CLAM-2030

Research Use Only (RUO)

Shimadzu – CLAM-2030

Shimadzu Europa GmbH