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Obesity Associated With Higher Risk for Chronic Diarrhea

Relationship appears independent of dietary, lifestyle, psychological, medical comorbidities

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Individuals who are obese or severely obese are more likely to have chronic diarrhea, according to a study published online Sept. 18 in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Sarah Ballou, Ph.D., from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues used data from the 2009 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to evaluate the relationship between obesity and abnormal bowel habits. In total, 5,126 respondents ≥20 years of age and without a history of inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, or colon cancer completed the bowel health questionnaire and had body mass index data available.

The researchers found that 1.4 percent of respondents were underweight, 26.3 percent were normal weight, 33.8 percent were overweight, 21.4 percent were obese, and 17.1 percent were severely obese. Compared with normal-weight individuals (4.5 percent), 8.5 percent of obese and 11.5 percent of severely obese individuals had chronic diarrhea. Severe obesity was independently associated with an increased risk for diarrhea after adjusting for dietary, lifestyle, psychological, and medical comorbidities.

“Clinicians should be aware of the relationship between obesity and diarrhea, especially considering the potential negative impacts altered bowel habits can have on quality of life,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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