NEW YORK — William Davis, author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health,” received media coverage this week when he appeared on the Sept. 26 edition of “Fox & Friends.” The three-hour morning news show airs Monday-Friday on Fox News Channel and attracts approximately 1 million viewers on a daily basis.
Released this month, Dr. Davis’ book touts the benefits of a wheat-free diet as including such things as weight loss of 20 to 50 lbs in the first few months, alleviation of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, recovery from intestinal woes like colitis and celiac disease, and marked improvement in overall cholesterol and L.D.L. counts. And rather than focusing on “refined grains” maligned in the nutrition community, Dr. Davis is also critical of whole wheat products.
In his interview with the “Fox & Friends” anchors — who did not endorse the book — Dr. Davis noted his belief that whole wheat is an appetite stimulant.
“There’s an odd protein unique to wheat, and this protein has essentially been reengineered over the past 40 years by some clever geneticists,” Dr. Davis said. “What they have done in effect is created a plant that causes appetite stimulation. It creates appetite stimulation.”
Responding to a question on whether wheat is less bad than white, Dr. Davis tried to make a comparison to cigarettes.
“It’s a small difference,” Dr. Davis said. “I would say it’s a difference similar to if I tell you unfiltered cigarettes like Marlboros are bad for you and filtered cigarettes are less bad. By that line of logic, I’d say let’s smoke lots of Salem cigarettes.”
Dr. Davis also does not see consumers switching to gluten-free products as a solution.
“We don’t want to replace one problem with yet another problem,” he said. “So the problem is the gluten-free world, that is processed food used to replace the gluten products like bread is that even if some multi-grain gluten-free bread, it’s almost always made of rice starch, tapioca starch — these raise blood sugars very high and cause visceral fat to accumulate and make us diabetic and give us arthritis. I wouldn’t want to trade one problem area, wheat, for another problem area, gluten-free.”
While not responding directly to Dr. Davis’ appearance “Fox & Friends,” the Grain Foods Foundation this week coordinated an interview with Glenn Gaesser from the foundation’s scientific advisory board and the Chicago Tribune regarding the claims made in “Wheat Belly.” Additionally, the G.F.F. is expected to reach out to the morning shows using Celiac Awareness Month (October) as an angle to offer Dr. Gaesser and/or Shelley Case, a celiac nutrition expert and member of the G.F.F. scientific advisory board, as experts.