More US residents are trying to avoid consuming gluten, the protein responsible for the condition known as celiac disease, than are dieting, according to recently released research conducted by market information firm NPD Group.

Furthermore, in January 2013, approximately one-third of all American adults said they are attempting to reduce or eliminate the substance in their diets. According to The NPD Group's latest report, that's the highest percentage since the group began asking American consumers about gluten consumption four years ago.

Those numbers might actually be on the low side, even though less than one percent of US adults have celiac disease, industry analyst Harry Balzer told Nancy Shute of NPR.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can be caused by the gluten protein, which is commonly found in wheat, rye and barley. It can cause fatigue, digestive issues, and other symptoms.

However, celiac disease is not the only reason people choose to go gluten-free in their diets, explains CNBC's Katie Little. "The trend to go gluten free has caught on with consumers who don't have either condition but instead see it as part of a healthy diet or a way to lose weight," she said.

"As a result of the growing gluten backlash, restaurants have released a bevy of new gluten-free items and menus, while grocers have lined their shelves with new options from food manufacturers that eliminate the ingredient. Some even advertise products as 'gluten free' that naturally lack the ingredient," the CNBC reporter added.

Over the past four years, the total number of gluten-free or wheat-free orders more than doubled, to 200 million, Little wrote. In addition, a recent National Restaurant Association survey of restaurant chefs called gluten-free eating the eighth most popular culinary trend of the year.

"For as long as NPD has been tracking the eating habits of Americans... they have been expressing a desire to eat healthier foods and beverages. It's not that we want health and wellness more but that we are constantly changing how we address health and wellness," Balzer said in a statement.

"A generation ago health was about avoiding fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium in our diet," he added. "While those desires still exist for many, they no longer are growing concerns. Today, increasingly more of us want to avoid gluten in our diet... This is the health issue of the day."