Bethesda, Maryland (Oct. 3, 2005) -- Physical activity may help reducegastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in people who are obese. In a studypublished today in the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology,researchers found that a high body mass index (BMI) and lack ofphysical activity were associated with an increase in GI symptoms suchas stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).
Obesity is a chronic disease that has become a major health problem inthe United States and around the world. In fact, many patients who areseen by gastroenterologists are overweight or obese. Over the last 20years, obesity has emerged as the most important nutrition problem inthe United States.
Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle and theUniversity of Minnesota in Minneapolis found that obese people whoincorporated some form of physical activity into their routine sufferedless from GI symptoms than others who were inactive. High BMI wasassociated with an increase in symptoms of IBS, abdominal pain anddiarrhea and binge eating was associated with an increase in abdominalpain, constipation and bloating. Of those participating in the study,more than 13 percent had IBS and nearly 6 percent were binge eaters. Onaverage, participants in this study were classified as obese, with anaverage BMI of 33.
"It is well-documented that maintaining a healthy diet and regularphysical activity can benefit GI health," said Rona L. Levy, PhD, leadstudy author and professor at the University of Washington in Seattle."Our study is the first to show the benefit of maintaining thesehealthy habits and staving off the occurrence of GI symptoms in obesepeople. These findings have future implications for the treatment ofboth obesity and various GI disorders and symptoms that are moreprevalent in this population."
Data collected from 1,801 men and women enrolled in a 24-monthrandomized trial evaluating telephone- and mail-based interventions forweight loss was used in this study. Participants were members of aManaged Care Organization and were randomized to one of three groups: amail-based weight intervention using prepared lessons that gavenutrition and physical activity tips; a telephone-based weightintervention with a trained counselor that also used prepared lessons;or a usual care group who did not receive specific weight lossinstructions, but were allowed access to telephone and clinic-basedweight loss counseling at modest cost. Study participation was based oneligibility factors, such as age, gender, smoking status, amount ofphysical activity, BMI and binge eating status.
The average body weight of Americans has increased by approximately 10percent during the last 20 years, with more than half the adultpopulation being overweight and nearly one in every three adultsdiagnosed as obese. Adopting a diet rich with fruits and vegetables andincreasing physical activity are two simple ways to control weight andlead a healthier lifestyle.
"Potential reduction of GI symptoms is yet another reason for obesepeople to consider engaging in physical activity," said Levy. "It couldmean the difference between leading a normal life or leading one filledwith constant discomfort."
This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
About the AGA
The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) is dedicated to themission of advancing the science and practice of gastroenterology.Founded in 1897, the AGA is the oldest medical-specialty society in theUnited States. The AGA's 14,500 members include physicians andscientists who research, diagnose and treat disorders of thegastrointestinal tract and liver. On a monthly basis, the AGA publishestwo highly respected journals, Gastroenterology and Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology . The AGA's annual meeting is Digestive Disease Week®,which is held each May and is the largest international gathering ofphysicians, researchers and academics in the fields ofgastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.
About Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
The mission of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatologyis to provide readers with a broad spectrum of themes in clinicalgastroenterology and hepatology. This monthly peer-reviewed journalincludes original articles as well as scholarly reviews, with the goalthat all articles published will be immediately relevant to thepractice of gastroenterology and hepatology. For more information,visit www.cghjournal.org.
Cite This Page: