According to a recent poll by Gallup, one in five Americans say they actively try to include gluten-free foods in their diet, while 17% say they avoid gluten-free foods. However, the majority of adults, 58%, say they don’t think about gluten-free foods either way. Gallup asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they include, or avoid, […]
According to a recent poll by Gallup, one in five Americans say they actively try to include gluten-free foods in their diet, while 17% say they avoid gluten-free foods. However, the majority of adults, 58%, say they don’t think about gluten-free foods either way.
Gallup asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they include, or avoid, in their diet as part of its annual Consumption Habits poll. “Gluten-free foods” was included in the list this year for the first time.
There are a number of reasons people may aim for a diet free of gluten, a form of protein found in wheat, rye and barley and their derivatives, Gallup notes. For example, gluten can damage the small intestine of people with coeliac disease, which is estimated to affect one in 100 people worldwide. However, notes the pollster, the Mayo Clinic finds that many people who follow a gluten-free diet have not been diagnosed with the disease, pointing out that a Mintel Research study found that sales of gluten-free foods increased by 63% between 2012 and 2014, despite a much smaller increase in the percentage of people diagnosed with coeliac disease. Based on the new Gallup data, far more U.S. adults say they actively try to include gluten-free foods in their diet than actually suffer from coeliac disease.
Demographic differences in those who seek out gluten-free foods are fairly minor, notes Gallup. One in three non-white Americans say they actively include gluten-free foods, compared with 17% of whites. Age has a modest relationship to use of gluten-free foods, with one in four adults younger than 50 engaging in the practice, compared with 17% of those aged 50 and older. There are not major differences between men and women.
More educated and wealthier Americans tend to be less likely to include gluten free-foods in their diet than Americans with no college experience and lower-income Americans, respectively, but these differences are also not large.
The gluten-free food market has grown substantially in the past five years, Gallup points out, as has the introduction of more foods that do not contain gluten. With one in five Americans now seeking to include these products in their diet, the prevalence goes well beyond the roughly 1% of Americans with coeliac disease, who have a serious medical reason to avoid gluten. Some Americans may eat gluten-free foods as part of an attempt to lose weight — a variant of a no-carb diet — while others claim it makes them feel better, Gallup says. Although there is some debate over how healthy a gluten-free diet is for those who do not have coeliac disease, the percentage of Americans who say they are attempting to include gluten-free food in their diet shows how widespread the practice is, the company concludes.