Over the years, the increasing incidence of celiac disease and greater awareness of the health problems caused by gluten have resulted in more and more people opting for a gluten-free diet. In fact, the sale of gluten-free products has increased by over 300% in the last couple of years. While it makes sense for people with celiac disease to avoid gluten, parents have been pushing their kids to follow a gluten-free diet as well. While it may seem a sensible option, experts warn that it can cause more harm than good.
Statistics clearly show that the number of Americans suffering from celiac disease is still low, at less than 1% of the total population, and few of them are kids.
In addition, most kids don’t have wheat allergy either, which is one reason why a gluten-free diet might be preferred. What parents don’t understand is the risk of a gluten free diet for kids. As the experts state, the diet by itself isn’t really healthy. There are no studies or researches which prove the idea that keeping kids off gluten is a good idea, unless they are allergic to it.
If parents insist upon a gluten-free diet without having their kids tested for CD or other related health issues, it could cause even more harm. Generally, foods which are free of gluten are processed, which is how the gluten is removed. An even greater risk of a gluten free diet is that the food products people generally purchase when going gluten-free have a higher sugar and fat content than products that actually contain gluten. This means, a gluten-free diet increases the risk of obesity among children.
In addition, children need an ample dose of nutrients for their growth and nourishment, which includes vitamins and minerals. A significant number of packaged items marketed as gluten-free don’t contain a sufficient quantity of the nutrients children need at their growing age. Over time, this can cause deficiencies, which can lead to a number of health problems in the future. Not to mention, gluten-free products are heavier on the wallet as well.
This is why it is crucial that parents understand the risk of a gluten free diet for their children. While they have their kids’ best interests at heart, not having them tested and not consulting an expert prior to making the decision to put kids on a gluten-free diet can prove harmful in the long run.