Media today on Type 2 diabetes and gluten free
10 March 2017
There have been reports in the media today of an increased occurrence of Type 2 diabetes in those following a low gluten diet.
The researchers who conducted the study at Harvard University and presented it at an American Heart Association meeting, have talked about its limitations, particularly noting that gluten free diets were not popular in the general population during the 30 year period studied. This means it is unlikely that people would have been religiously reducing gluten intake for the duration of the study. This is an observational study and there is a need for further validation of its findings as there is no recognised link between coeliac disease and Type 2 diabetes.
The study observed a 30 year period and considers health implications of reducing gluten intake other than in coeliac disease where the gluten free diet is the medical treatment. The maximum amount of gluten recognised in gluten free diets is 50mg/day compared to the study in question which reports an intake of up to 12g/day – this is not so different from the average intake of a normal gluten containing diet.
There is a strong link between coeliac disease and Type 1 diabetes because both are autoimmune diseases. People with Type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk than the general population of having coeliac disease, with between 4 and 9% of people with Type 1 diabetes also having a diagnosis of coeliac disease, compared with 1% in the general population.