Celiac Disease Exposed
Illuminating the larger picture of gluten sensitivity



Celiac Disease and Obesity

The starving malnourished fat person is an oxymoron: Overfed on the outside, undernourished on the inside. 

"My daughter's gastroenterologist told me to my face: You can't have celiac disease because obese people don't have celiac disease."

Celiac disease, an intestinal disorder has been considered a wasting disease for over a century; marked by malnutrition and weight loss due in part to malabsorption of fat.

Fat absorption is impaired in celiac disease. Can celiac disease and obesity exist together? Can someone with malabsorption of fat - who cannot absorb fat - be fat?

Author Dr. Nancy J. Lyons suggests the answer to this paradox is yes in An Unlikely Foe: CELIAC DISEASE EXPOSED.  

An unexpected and significant coincidence of celiac disease and obesity was reported in the January 2007 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology  (Vol. 42:60-65) -- after An Unlikely Foe: Celiac Disease Exposed was published.

Research undertaken by the University of Helsinki reported the screening of 1,900 people for celiac disease; that led to diagnoses of 36 cases of celiac disease. Of the 36 cases, 14 were newly diagnosed in this study: One half were overweight and one third classified as obese (BMI range of 20.1-41.5 kg/m2).

Celiac disease and obesity coincidence was confirmed. This research also suggests that obesity can obscure and perhaps be driven by pseudo-starvation on the inside.


"Celiac Disease is truly an unlikely foe. This book was a life-changing catalyst for our family. One family member was struggling with health issues that were undiagnosed for years. The book shed light on a possible diagnosis. Two years, 40 pounds lighter, life is wonderful! Nancy's book was one of the greatest gifts our family has received." C.C.

How typical is this case of weight loss with a gluten-free diet? It is unknown. Regarding celiac disease and obesity; the gluten-free diet and weight loss, there are no data available. Yes, a gluten-free diet helps with weight loss in some cases; however, it is not a guarantee to weight loss. 

What are the benefits of a gluten-free diet for weight loss? 

When a strict gluten-free diet leads to a dramatic positive change in well-being in 2-3 weeks, your appearance can change too.  Initially, the decrease in abdominal swelling and overall puffiness may result in a weight loss.  For the longer term, some people on a gluten-free diet do not feel starved constantly so they can better control food cravings.
  • Abdominal bloating is markedly reduced.
  • Swelling or edema is markedly reduced.
  • Appetite is moderated.
  • Food cravings diminish.


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