Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Fall 2019


Food Science and Human Nutrition

First Major Professor

Sarah Francis


Master of Family and Consumer Sciences (MFCS)


Family and Consumer Sciences


Background: Strict adherence of a gluten-free diet (GFD) has historically been recommended only for Celiac Disease (CD). However, its use has expanded to include using it as a treatment option for Type 1 Diabetes (T1DM) and as a weight loss diet strategy for the general population.

Purpose: The purpose of this creative component was to conduct a literature review to determine to what extent the GFD benefits individuals with T1DM and impacts weight loss.

Methods: An electronic literature search was conducted utilizing the Iowa State Online Library, PubMed and Google Scholar databases. Search terms used included “gluten and type 1 diabetes,” “gluten and weight loss,” “gluten and metabolic control,” and “nutritional adequacy of the GFD.” Peer-reviewed, full-text articles were included if they were published between January 2010 and October 2019. A total of 24 primary research studies were included for review. Of these 24 studies, 9 addressed gluten and T1DM and 15 addressed gluten and weight loss. Content of the studies found were appraised and given a quality rating using the Evidence Analysis process to determine the validity of their methods, results and conclusions.

Results: Of the primary studies included, 17 were rated as “positive” and 7 were rated as “neutral.” Current literature shows a potential beneficial relationship between adherence to a GFD and treatment of T1DM, especially considering the genetic link between CD and T1DM. The literature search revealed the research examining the GFD on weight loss in the general population is limited; most studies examining the impact of GFD on weight have been conducted among those with CD. The GFD impact on weight among the general, healthy population is mixed. However, it has been shown to be beneficial when an individual’s BMI starts in the obese/overweight category; however, weight gain was also observed when the individual’s BMI started in the underweight category.

Conclusions: The evidence regarding the utilization of the GFD for individuals genetically at risk for and/or diagnosed with T1DM and weight loss amongst the general healthy adult population was limited and therefore should be approached with caution.

Copyright Owner

Seibel, Molly

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