Motivation for Gluten-Free Diet Adherence among Adults with and without a Clinically Diagnosed Gluten-Related Illness
Background and Purpose: Historically used as the sole treatment for celiac disease, there has been a substantial rise in popularity of the gluten-free diet (GFD) as both a diet plan and alternative form of medicine in the United States (US). Approximately 1% of the US population suffers from celiac disease, but various reports show 30% to 80% of adults have an interest in, or are currently adhering to, a GFD. This study aimed to understand this disproportion by exploring GFD adherence motivations, in addition to medical diagnoses, within a population of gluten-free followers. Methods. An anonymous, internetbased survey was administered to assess GFD motivations and adherence within the general population (n=99). Results. Of those currently following or who had previously followed a GFD, medical diagnosis was reported by only 28.6% as motivation for GFD adherence, with 60.7% reporting general health motivations, 25.0% reporting weight loss motivations, and 21.4% reporting curiosity. Conclusion. This study supports previous research suggesting that adherence to a GFD may occur for reasons outside of a medical diagnosis. Public health educators should inform individuals about risks and misconceptions associated with GFDs when implementing healthy eating programs for adults without medically diagnosed digestive conditions.