Too Many Americans Think Gluten’s the Enemy

Bread gets knocked down. But it gets up again.
Bread gets knocked down. But it gets up again.Photo: David Munns/Corbis

“I’m trying to cut back or avoid gluten in my diet,” is something we hear far too often these days, and it’s usually met with an eye-roll. While some people (one in 133) do in fact suffer from celiac disease, many are just convinced that gluten’s what’s making them fat. Or tired. Or cranky. Or all of the above. Since 2009, the NPD Group has surveyed people to see if they’re anti-gluten. The market research firm’s new survey charted the highest level of gluten-phobic folks the company’s ever seen: 29 percent said they’re aiming to cut gluten out of their diets. What makes this problematic is that it’s costing Americans billions of dollars; gluten-free products are hella expensive — a 242 percent increase! It’s neither easy nor cheap to achieve the texture of a muffin without wheat (and usually not satisfying, either). Last year, the gluten-free market was $4.2 billion, and researchers say that by 2017, it could increase to $6.6 billion. Cutting gluten can certainly make some people feel better, but if there’s a placebo effect in action, the cost is far greater than the perceived benefit. [Time]