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AACC International Publishes Science-Based Response to Wheat Belly

St. Paul, Minn. (September 27, 2012)—A new article published by AACC International refutes many of the claims published in the recent book, Wheat Belly, which charges that it is wheat consumption that is causing obesity and a myriad of other common health problems in the United States. The AACCI article challenges Wheat Belly’s author William Davis’s recommendation to cut wheat entirely from the diet.

St. Catherine University Professor Emerita and Consultant Julie Jones takes a careful look at a selection of Davis’s statements and the current research in the area, identifying which statements are based on good, sound nutrition science; those that have studies that are controversial and have support on either side of the issue; those that have no data to support them; and those that oppose widely accepted data reported in scientific and medical literature.

In her article, “Wheat Belly—An Analysis of Selected Statements and Basic Theses from the Book” published in Cereal Foods World, Jones assesses many of the statements provided by Davis. While Davis finds that eliminating wheat from the diet creates rapid weight loss and may cure or mitigate conditions such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and joint pain, Jones reminds readers that many diets that severely restrict calories are successful in the short term.  Further she notes that significant weight loss, regardless of the inclusion of wheat or not, helps relieve or cure conditions such as those listed above. States Jones, “An attribution of improvement in such conditions to the wheat removal is overly simplistic.”

The book charges that wheat is addictive and that its breaks down products result in peptides that interact with the opioid receptors making them exogenous opioids.  The book suggests these addictive peptides cause people to be unable to control their eating and, when eliminated from the diet, cause the body to go through withdrawal that is characteristic of addiction. Jones points out that the National Institutes of Health in vitro study on which Davis bases his hypothesis also identifies other foods, including spinach, that produce the peptide fragments that can interact with opioid receptors.  It is interesting that spinach is not also proposed as a cause of addiction! In vivo data supporting the addictive nature of such peptides or the cause of withdrawal-like symptoms that Davis postulates is lacking.   

“There is a lot of conflicting information available for consumers about nutrition and dieting. As a result, there is a lot of confusion about what constitutes a healthy diet,” states Judi Adams, president of the Wheat Foods Council. “Articles like this, which apply sound science to popular claims, are very important because they provide the tools and information to help those in the nutrition community, whose job it is to educate consumers, be more effective.”

Jones also addresses Davis’s assertions concerning glycemic index and starches, wheat breeding and genetics, celiac disease, and other diseases and allergens, by looking at his assertions in light of current published research. The point-for-point article is now available on AACC International’s website at www.aaccnet.org. Julie Jones will be speaking on formulating grain-based food for glucose control, soluble fibers and health, and the whole grain definition, at the AACCI Annual Meeting, September 30 – October 3, 2012, in Hollywood, Florida, U.S.A.

AACC International is a worldwide organization for grain science professionals who contribute to the research, development, and processing of grains and grain-based products and is dedicated to disseminating the top cereal grain research.