Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/11/2013
Publication Date: 2/1/2013
Publication URL: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jf305122s
Citation: Kasarda, D.D. 2013. Can an increase in celiac disease be attributed to an increase in the gluten content of wheat as a consequence of wheat breading? A perspective. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 61:1155-1159. DOI: 10.1021/jf305122s.
Interpretive Summary: It has been suggested that an increase in the incidence of celiac disease in the U.S. might be attributable to an increase in the gluten content of wheat resulting from wheat breeding. The literature on protein content for the main types of bread wheat (hard red winter and hard red spring) during the 20th century was analyzed to determine if this claim is supported. It is concluded that there is no clear evidence for an increase in gluten protein content of wheat as a consequence of breeding during the period in question. The possible roles of changes in the per capita consumption of wheat flour and of vital gluten consumption as a food additive are discussed, but firm conclusions cannot be drawn regarding their relationship to the reported increase in the incidence of celiac disease.
Technical Abstract: In order to assess the possibility that wheat breeding has been responsible for an increase in the gluten content of U.S. wheat cultivars and thereby responsible for an increase in the incidence of celiac disease, the available data from the 20th century has been analyzed. Although much of the information from the early part of the 20th century was inaccessible, a few reliable reports suggested that neither hard red spring wheats nor hard red winter wheats had protein contents in the latter half of the century that differed on the average from protein contents reported for the first half of the century. Increases in the per capita consumption of wheat flour were noted during the latter half of the 20th century as were increases in the amount of vital gluten being used as food additives over the years in question. However, because the absolute amounts of gluten consumed per capita in the form of wheat flour were relatively large in comparison with the amounts expected from changes in consumption or estimated for consumption of vital gluten, these increases should not be concluded as causative of the increase in the incidence of celiac disease, although that possiblity although that possibility cannot be ruled out.