A growing body of research shows that your weight can have a significant impact on acid reflux and related symptoms. It’s common knowledge that certain foods can trigger symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disorder GERD — a condition characterized by frequent episodes of acid reflux, also known as heartburn. But scientists and doctors have shown in a number of different studies that excess body weight — even being just slightly overweight — can also trigger the onset of GERD and influence its severity. Another possible explanation is that people with a higher body weight may eat more fat, which is a well-known GERD trigger. Here are some key takeaways from studies showing that your body weight plays a role in GERD, and that losing weight can have a positive impact on the condition. In this study, researchers sought to find out whether relatively small changes in body weight — even within the bounds of normal weight — can affect the severity of acid reflux and related symptoms in women. The researchers found that women who were overweight — defined by a body mass index of 25 to 30 — were more than twice as likely to develop acid reflux as those of normal weight. Women who were obese — with a BMI greater than 30 — had nearly triple the risk of GERD symptoms, like heartburn, acid regurgitation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. Perhaps most surprising, though, was that small differences in body weight in women of normal weight — with a BMI of 21 to 25 — also affected the likelihood of developing GERD.
Weight gain is an important risk factor for gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD ; however, whether weight loss can lead to resolution of GERD symptoms is not clear. Our aim was to measure the impact of weight loss on GERD symptoms. Weight loss strategies included dietary modifications, increased physical activity and behavioral changes. At baseline and at 6 months, BMI and waist circumference were measured and all participants completed a validated reflux disease questionnaire. A structured weight loss program can lead to complete resolution of GERD symptoms in the majority of these subjects. The exact etiology for the rising prevalence of GERD is not clear. Although there are no gender or racial predispositions for GERD development 4, 5, various lifestyle factors including increased consumption of dietary fats, smoking, and alcohol and change in BMI are potential risk factors that can lead to GERD 6 – Over the past few decades, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has more than doubled. It seems intuitive that the worsening obesity epidemic and the rising prevalence of GERD symptoms may point to a cause and effect relationship. Previous data on the impact of weight loss achieved through various lifestyle dietary changes and physical activity 21 – 25 or surgical methods Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or vertical band gastroplasty 26 – 30 on GERD symptoms are scarce and with conflicting results A systematic review evaluating the effects of various life style changes on GERD symptoms suggested that weight loss and head of bed elevation could improve symptoms of GERD However, the impact of a structured weight loss program on GERD symptoms in overweight and obese subjects has not been prospectively evaluated.
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