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Few People Are Sensitive To Gluten, So Why Are “Gluten-free” Foods So Popular?

September 18, 2010: 11:43 PM EST

Gluten, unlike trans-fats, is not innately bad to eat. Yet an increasing number of people are buying gluten-free foods. Packaged Facts says U.S. sales of gluten-free foods have more than doubled since 2005 to $1.5 billion. But celiac disease sufferers, who are very sensitive to the protein that gives breads and pastas their structure, make up a tiny minority of consumers. So why is “gluten-free” such a popular label claim? Some say it’s a celebrity fad thing. Some claim gluten-free foods make them feel more energetic or just “better.” Others see gluten-free as part of a lifestyle change, like becoming vegan. That’s fine, nutritionists say, adding a word of caution: gluten-free is not a synonym for low calorie.

Michael Hill, "Gluten-free has gone big time, but why so popular?", Associated Press, September 18, 2010, © The Associated Press
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