“Gluten free” booming despite misconception of health implications

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 29th October 2012

Although the benefits for healthy people of eating a gluten-free diet for reasons other than intolerance are questionable, there is no denying that the industry is booming. The United States gluten-free product industry is estimated to be worth $4.2 billion by the end of 2012, according to research company Packaged Stats.

The Packaged Stats report said that the gluten-free industry has been rising at an annual rate of 28 per cent since 2008, translating to about 1 in every 5 American consumers buying gluten-free products. Previously considered to be difficult to find, more expensive and less tasty – the boom in gluten-free has changed this and now offers an abundance of gluten-free brands.

The popularity of gluten-free products continues to rise in the United States and around the world. Australian Food News reported earlier this month that despite gluten free specialty flours and premium ingredients being typically more expensive than their conventional counterpart, gluten-free products remain hot-sellers.

Many US customers who are purchasing gluten-free products claim in surveys that eating gluten free is “healthier.” According to dietitian Sharon Natoli quoted today in The Australian newspaper, the gluten-free products often “contain significant amounts of ingredients such as rice flour, potato flour, potato starch, corn starch and maize starch, ingredients with low nutritional value, a high glycemic index and a lack of fibre.”

A recent report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlighted that although some people reported weight-loss when incorporating a gluten-free diet into their lifestyle, many people who were already overweight continued to put on more weight.

Meanwhile, Diets in Review, an American-based group comprising health and fitness experts, has recently released its own list of “top gluten-free products” on the market in the United States.