Does Wheat Make Us Fat?

Does wheat make us fat and sick is the title of a recent publication in the Journal of Cereal Science (yes that is an actual journal). Anyone who has stepped into a bookstore lately is well aware of the multitude of books claiming that wheat is causing all of our current health problems. Wheat BellyGrain Brain & Wheat Free Diet are among those seemingly endless titles. I find my head spinning when I hear another professional purporting the benefits of eliminating wheat from our diet. These researchers have suggested that wheat consumption leads to overeating and addiction, therefore resulting in our current obesity epidemic. Not only is there weak scientific evidence to back this claim, it also oversimplifies a very complicated problem. In my experience as an RD, I have found that obesity has not resulted from overeating healthy whole wheat grains, (such as bulgur, kamut, spelt, wheat berries, etc.) but rather consumption of refined breads (i.e. wheat), crackers, cookies & other processed baked goods; in general overconsumption of calories & limited physical activity.

 

Obesity is multifactorial; we cannot assign one specific type of food to our current epidemic.  However, what we do know for certain is that if we cut processed food from our diet (which includes processed wheat), increase our consumption of plant foods, engage in regular physical activity, we will lose weight and our overall sense of well being will improve.   Individuals that eliminate wheat from their diet are essentially limiting their processed food intake.  The culprit: high calorie, processed foods (not the wheat)

 

It should be noted that persons with celiac disease or wheat allergies do need to eliminate wheat from their diet.

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