After earlier debates on the role of fat, high fructose corn syrup, and added sugar in the aetiology of obesity, it has recently been suggested that wheat consumption is involved. Suggestions have been made that wheat consumption has adverse effects on health by mechanisms related to addiction and overeating. We discuss these arguments and conclude that they cannot be substantiated. Moreover, we conclude that assigning the cause of obesity to one specific type of food or food component, rather than overconsumption and inactive lifestyle in general, is not correct. In fact, foods containing whole-wheat, which have been prepared in customary ways (such as baked or extruded), and eaten in recommended amounts, have been associated with significant reductions in risks for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a more favourable long term weight management. Nevertheless, individuals that have a genetic predisposition for developing celiac disease, or who are sensitive or allergic to wheat proteins, will benefit from avoiding wheat and other cereals that contain proteins related to gluten, including primitive wheat species (einkorn, emmer, spelt) and varieties, rye and barley. It is therefore important for these individuals that the food industry should develop a much wider spectrum of foods, based on crops that do not contain proteins related to gluten, such as teff, amaranth, oat, quinoa, and chia. Based on the available evidence, we conclude that whole-wheat consumption cannot be linked to increased prevalence of obesity in the general population.
- Gluten-free diet
- Celiac disease