THURSDAY, June 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Young adults who value gluten-free food usually do so as part of a healthier dietary pattern, though they are also more likely to engage in unhealthy weight control activities, according to a study published online June 18 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Mary J. Christoph, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues assessed the sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics of young adults valuing gluten-free as an important food attribute and compared their dietary intake with that of other young adults. The authors used data from 1,819 young adults (25 to 36 years) who were surveyed in 2015 to 2016 as part of the fourth wave of the Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) cohort study.

The researchers found that about 13 percent of young adults valued gluten-free food, a characteristic most strongly related to valuing food production practices (e.g., organic, locally grown). Valuing gluten-free food was also related to factors such as use of nutrition facts and having a weight goal. Valuing gluten-free food was related to both healthy behaviors (e.g., eating breakfast daily, eating more fruits and vegetables) and unhealthy behaviors (e.g., using diet pills to control weight).

“Valuing gluten-free food may be part of a cluster of behaviors representing an interest in making healthier food choices but may also be a marker for unhealthy weight preoccupation and behaviors,” the authors write.

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