Most People Don't Know as Much About Gluten as They Think They Do

By Mike Pomranz |

 Gluten mania (or gluten-free mania) continues to dominate the United. We’ve covered it extensively, from big picture news – like how a third of Americans are trying to cut gluten from their diets – to the smaller impact – like how some Girl Scout cookies have even gone gluten-free. But what do people really know about gluten?

Not as much as they think it turns out. NSF International—the Michigan-based public health and safety organization—commissioned a phone survey of 1,012 Americans to find out the answer. Not surprisingly, misconceptions abound.

One of the most glaring is that nine percent of people self-identify as having Celiac disease, the only medically-proven gluten intolerance. What makes that number significant is that scientific research shows the number of Americans with Celiac is likely less than one percent.

But here’s another stat that will help put things into perspective: Though 90 percent of those questioned had heard of gluten, only 35 percent could accurately identify what gluten was. 47 percent thought you’d be likely to find gluten in rice; 34 percent thought potatoes were packing gluten (wrong and wrong by the way).

Leading the charge appears to be America’s young people. 62 percent of people aged 18 to 34 insisted they knew what gluten was even when they were totally wrong wrong, compared to 48 percent for those aged 65 and above. And therein lies the conundrum: Much of the gluten hype seems to stem from people who think they understand gluten better than they actually do.

Not to say that going gluten-free is bad. The survey also found that 12 percent of respondents said they eat a gluten-free diet because it makes them feel healthier. Sure, it’s not as good as actually being healthier, but it’s a start.