|About 72% of adult Internet users admit to using online search engines to self-diagnose themselves with medical conditions or find treatments for other conditions that their doctor has not prescribed. In many cases, the internet is to blame for health scams, the majority pertaining to weight loss.
Fraudulent weight loss products were effectively marketed and sold to 4.8 million U.S. consumers, and even more searchers took free advice to heart, and changed their diets or lifestyles without consulting a doctor beforehand.
Gluten, in recent years, has become the bad guy in the supermarket. Advertisements and articles say that gluten is bad for you, and food labels advertise products as “gluten free,” leading some to the conclusion that they should stay away from it.
While some people genuinely suffer from gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance (otherwise known as Celiac disease), many have waged war against gluten in order to lose weight.
Gluten is a wheat protein, found in most bread products, imitation meats, beer, as well as in some more unsuspecting products like ice cream or condiments.
Bread, especially, has taken a hard hit in the backlash against gluten. A survey of 1,000 people by the Irish Flour Confectioners and Bakers Association showed that, “the public are increasingly confused about the role bread can play as part of a healthy balanced diet,” according to Dermot Kelly, the president of the association.
Bread is usually the first food to be cut out of the diet in attempts to lose weight. The study found that 51% of respondents have stopped eating bread and bread products, while 48% cut out alcohol, and only 17% cut caffeine out of their diets.
Half of female respondents said that bread causes them to bloat, while only 27% of men say the same. Of female respondents, 31% attributed bread to their weight gain while over a quarter of males said the same.
More than 20% of women and 10% of men were quick to claim that they suffered from some sort of bread-related intolerance, likely gluten, and 40% of total respondents said they would be more apt to talk to friends or family about health symptoms rather than speaking to a doctor. This number doesn’t even factor in the self-diagnosed Internet users.
Dr. Ciara Kelly, an Ambassador for Irish National Bread Week (Oct. 9 – 15, 2016), expresses extreme worry for those who have ruled out bread.
“These results are worrying because cutting any major food group can produce an imbalance in the diet. The danger of self-diagnosis is misdiagnosis…I would urge those concerned about any symptoms to visit a doctor or registered dietitian before making any significant changes to their diet.”
Professor Fergus Shanahan, a world leader in gastroenterology and professor of medicine at University College Cork, said that much of the findings that blame gluten for health impacts as “junk science.”
“A lot of this has to do with the amount [of bread] you eat,” said Shanahan. “We all need carbohydrate, it is only a matter of how much.”