Celiac disease was once associated with wasting or failure to thrive. It typically interferes with the body’s ability to digest nutrients (malabsorbtion syndrome) and can stunt growth or cause other developmental problems associated with malnutrition.
Because of the effects of severe cases of celiac disease, in the past it was generally only diagnosed in children that were very thin or had obvious digestive issues. New evidence is coming to light that in some people the problems of celiac disease or gluten intolerance can lead to significant weight gain. The new estimates are that 10% of the population may have problems with gluten and those problems could lead to obesity.
Our genes are programed to gain weight to save us from famine. My theory is that as famine approaches our genes pack on weigh and drive us to eat compulsively. If we mimic famine like conditions…
for example we have very low nutrition in our diet, we develop these compulsive eating impulses. For people with celiac disease it doesn’t matter what the nutrition is in the diet because the body can’t absorb the nutrients. My theory is that celiac triggers the famine like response from our genes that can turn us into compulsive eaters.
If a child exhibits compulsive eating habits there seem to be few effective options. Counseling and attempting to raise activity levels work for some but for most the habits are very difficult to break. Part of the difficulty is that for some it’s not a behavioral problem but rather a genetic response to gluten in the diet. This is why it’s very important to rule this out rather than try to force behavior modification.