Does wheat make us fat and sick?

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Brouns, F. J. P. H., Van Buul, V. J. and Shewry, P. R. 2013. Does wheat make us fat and sick? Journal of Cereal Science. 58, pp. 209-215.

AuthorsBrouns, F. J. P. H., Van Buul, V. J. and Shewry, P. R.

After earlier debates on the role of fat, high fructose corn syrup, and added sugar in the aetiology of obesity, it has recently been suggested that wheat consumption is involved. Suggestions have been made that wheat consumption has adverse effects on health by mechanisms related to addiction and overeating. We discuss these arguments and conclude that they cannot be substantiated. Moreover, we conclude that
assigning the cause of obesity to one specific type of food or food component, rather than overconsumption and inactive lifestyle in general, is not correct. In fact, foods containing whole-wheat, which have been prepared in customary ways (such as baked or extruded), and eaten in recommended amounts, have been associated with significant reductions in risks for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a more favourable long term weight management. Nevertheless, individuals that have a genetic predisposition for developing
celiac disease, or who are sensitive or allergic to wheat proteins, will benefit from avoiding wheat and other
cereals that contain proteins related to gluten, including primitive wheat species (einkorn, emmer, spelt) and varieties, rye and barley. It is therefore important for these individuals that the food industry should develop a much wider spectrum of foods, based on crops that do not contain proteins related to gluten, such as teff, amaranth, oat, quinoa, and chia. Based on the available evidence, we conclude that wholewheat consumption cannot be linked to increased prevalence of obesity in the general population.

Year of Publication2013
JournalJournal of Cereal Science
Journal citation58, pp. 209-215
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDesigning Seeds for Nutrition and Health (DS)
Designing cereal seeds for nutrition and health
Design Cereal Seeds [Shewry/Mitchell]
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online22 Jun 2013
Publication process dates
Accepted03 Jun 2013
Academic Press Ltd- Elsevier Science Ltd
Copyright licenseCC BY

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