Sarah Ballou, PhD Health psychologist in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA

Obese Patients More Likely to Have Diarrhea

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sarah Ballou, PhD Health psychologist in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA

Dr. Ballou

Sarah Ballou, PhD
Health Psychologist
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, MA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Obesity is known to be associated with an increased risk of gastrointestinal and liver diseases, but less is known about the relationship between obesity and constipation or diarrhea.

We used a nationally representative sample of the US population to evaluate whether obesity was associated with abnormal bowel habits. We found that obese individuals were 60% more likely to have diarrhea, even after controlling for possible confounding factors such as dietary, lifestyle, psychological, and medical conditions.


MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: These findings confirmed our hypothesis that obesity would be associated with an increased risk for diarrhea. It is important to note that we found that this association was not due to dietary factors (for example, increased fat, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, or carbohydrate intake), physical activity, diabetes, laxative use, or demographic factors (age, sex, race, income, education level). The treatment of obesity and obesity-related medical conditions requires multidisciplinary management. Clinicians should be aware of the relationship between obesity and diarrhea, especially considering the potential negative impact of altered bowel habits on quality of life.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Our findings raise the question of why obese individuals would be more likely than non-obese individuals to have diarrhea. Previous studies investigating the relationship between diarrhea and obesity have hypothesized that this was due to dietary factors, but our study suggests otherwise. Future research should seek to clarify this relationship and to identifying underlying factors that would explain the association between obesity and diarrhea. 

Citation:

Sarah Ballou, Prashant Singh, Vikram Rangan, Johanna Iturrino, Judy Nee, Anthony Lembo. Obesity is associated with significantly increased risk for diarrhoea after controlling for demographic, dietary and medical factors: a cross-sectional analysis of the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/apt.15500

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Last Modified: Sep 21, 2019 @ 12:23 pm

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