Obesity Increases the Risk of Reflux
People who are obese, especially
women, have an increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux
symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation.
According to a new
study, severely obese men (i.e., a body mass index [BMI] of
greater than 35) have a three times greater
of reflux symptoms than men with a normal body mass (a BMI
of less than 25). Severely obese women have six times the
reflux symptoms. Also, severely obese premenopausal women
are much more likely to have reflux symptoms than severely obese
postmenopausal women, suggesting that female sex hormones
play a role in the relationship between obesity and reflux.
results were based on a 1995 to 1997 survey of 65,363 Norwegians.
Many of these individuals also participated in
an earlier (1984
to 1986) survey of 74,599 Norwegians. People who lost weight
between the first and second survey were less likely to
have reflux symptoms at the second survey than those who did
lose weight, indicating that weight loss can reduce the
risk of reflux.
Obese premenopausal women are likely to have higher
levels of active estrogen, which the researchers hypothesize
increase the synthesis of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide
might lead to reflux
by relaxing the smooth muscle in the lower esophageal
Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume 290, page 66
July 2, 2003