Dr. William Davis Warns of Gluten

staff of life

In 2011, William Davis, M.D., published the book Wheat Belly, whose message is that “over-consumption of wheat is the main cause of the obesity and diabetes crisis in the United States.” Some of his medical peers are uncomfortable with assigning so much blame to the fabled Staff of Life, and they all have different reasons. For instance, Dr. Pretlow has remarked, “The youth on our website and in our study identify many foods with which they have a problem, outside of the flour and sugar realm, such as fried foods, cheese, corn chips, pop corn, sour cream, nuts, and burgers.”

The next post will go into that sentence deeply. The website Dr. Pretlow referred to is, of course, Weigh2Rock.  Thousands of young people have supplied information on their problem foods by way of the website polls, and data has been gathered from the first study and the current study establishing the usefulness of the W8Loss2Go smartphone app. Dr. Pretlow says, “Withdrawal from specific user-identified problem foods is thus the approach of our app, then progressing to all food amounts. This self-identified problem food approach seems to resonate with the youth in our pilot study.”

But something else is going on here. While America wasn’t looking, gluten has snuck into everything, and wheat is its delivery system, to the point where the average American eats 133 pounds of wheat per year. “It’s in over 90% of the foods on supermarket shelves,” Dr. Davis says, possibly without exaggeration. He’s not talking about vegetables, fish, or nuts. The shelves in the middle are where the boxes and cans of processed food are, and an astonishing number of them contain gluten in some form, often disguised by alternate terminology. Dr. Davis asserts, “For most Americans, every single meal and snack contains foods made with wheat flour.”

Like fish in water, we are surrounded by enough of it that it becomes almost invisible. Maybe its ubiquity is part of the reason why, at first, biochemical addiction to wheat flour sounds like an unlikely reason for an obesity epidemic. Wheat seems so innocent, so helpful to humankind and so necessary. Revolutions have begun over a lack of bread.

Also, it’s not wheat

As in a science fiction film about pod people, wheat has been replaced by something that bears the same name but is not, in fact, the same. When a person longs for the incomparable biscuits that Grandma made, it isn’t just nostalgia. Davis says:

The wheat of today is not the same grain our forebears ground into their daily bread. It has changed dramatically in the past 50 years under the influence of agricultural scientists. Wheat has undergone a drastic transformation to yield something entirely unique, nearly unrecognizable when compared to the original.

This was accomplished, by the way, with no testing in regard to the safety of animals or humans. The scientists had other priorities, such as increasing yield per acre. Nobody paused to ask, “What will this do to people?” So what does it do to people? Thanks to Lisa, who took the trouble to deconstruct the book into easily graspable bites, we find Dr. Davis’s answer. For starters, the carbohydrate in wheat is very digestible and the body converts it to blood sugar with remarkable efficiency, which is undesirable in health terms.

High blood sugar, in turn, provokes high blood insulin. High blood insulin provokes visceral fat accumulation, which causes tissues such as muscle and liver to respond less to insulin. This so-called insulin resistance means that the pancreas must produce greater and greater quantities of insulin to metabolize the sugars. Eventually, a vicious circle of [increase ensues]: insulin resistance, insulin production, deposition of visceral fat, insulin resistance etc, etc…

Gluten sensitivity can even cause such unlikely-seeming problems as peripheral neuropathy, affecting the nerves of the hands and feet. In cultures where teenagers don’t get acne, they’re not eating wheat. Dr. Davis says that among his own patients, three months off grain can lead to the loss of 20 or even 40 pounds, and the remission of diabetes.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Summary: Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD,” TheHealingProject.us, 09/22/12
Source: “Wheat Belly: Frequently Asked Questions,” WheatBellyBlog.com, 07/26/11
Image by Robert Couse-Baker


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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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