Clinical Nutrition

A comparison of the nutritional status between adult celiac patients on a long-term, strictly gluten-free diet and healthy subjects



There are conflicting data on the effect of a gluten-free diet (GFD) on the nutritional status of celiac patients. In the present study, we evaluated, in adult celiac patients, the influence of a long-term, strictly GFD on their nutritional status and compared it with matched healthy volunteers.


Our study included 39 celiac patients and 39 healthy volunteers. The body mass index (BMI) of patients and controls was evaluated at enrollment, while the patients’ BMI before the GFD was retrieved from clinical records. In addition, at enrollment, in both groups, we compared BMI, fat mass (FM), bone mineral density (BMD), as well as their dietary intake, recorded on a 7-day diary.


At the time of diagnosis, the majority of celiac patients (82.0%) had a normal BMI or were overweight, while 10.3% were malnourished. After the GFD, patients with a normal BMI showed a significant weight increase (P=0.002), but none of them switched in the overweight or obese category. Two (50%) of the four malnourished patients achieved a normal BMI. Controls and patients on a GFD had a similar BMI, FM, BMD and total calorie intake, but the amount of lipids and fiber intake was significantly different in the two groups (P=0.003 and P<0.0001, respectively).


Our study demonstrates that a GFD is able to improve the nutritional status of celiac patients without inducing overweight or obesity. Our findings are related to a celiac population adopting a GFD based on a Mediterranean-type diet.

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Correspondence to M Barone.

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Barone, M., Della Valle, N., Rosania, R. et al. A comparison of the nutritional status between adult celiac patients on a long-term, strictly gluten-free diet and healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 70, 23–27 (2016) doi:10.1038/ejcn.2015.114

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