Effect of low and high fat meals on lower esophageal sphincter motility and gastroesophageal reflux in healthy subjects

Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 May;94(5):1192-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.01064.x.


Objective: The reported effects of fatty meals on lower esophageal sphincter pressure (LESP) and gastroesophageal reflux (GER) are controversial. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to reevaluate the effect of isocaloric and isovolumetric low and high fat meals on LESP and GER.

Methods: Twelve healthy volunteers (six women, six men, 19 to 31 yr) received an isocaloric (842 kcal) solid-liquid (310 ml with 260 kcal) meal with either a low (10% fat, 14% proteins, 76% carbohydrates) or a high fat content (50% fat, 18% proteins, 32% carbohydrates) in a randomized, double-blinded fashion. The nutritional composition was identical for the solid and liquid part of the meals. In the first post-prandial hour LESP was recorded continuously using a Dent sleeve, and esophageal pH measurement was performed for 3 h postprandially with a glass electrode. We calculated the mean LESP, the frequency of transient LES relaxations (TLESR) and of reflux episodes (RE), the percentage of TLESR with GER, and the fraction time pH <4.

Results: For all parameters measured no difference was observed between the low and the high fat meal. Mean LESP amounted to a median of 10.7 mm Hg (range, 7.3 to 15.1 mm Hg) after the low fat meal and to 11.1 mm Hg (5.2 to 16.3 mm Hg) after the high fat meal. The frequency of TLESR (n/1 h) rated to 9 (5 to 13) and 8 (4 to 14), and of RE (n/3 h) to 12 (3 to 22) and 11 (1 to 30). The percentage of TLESR with GER were 37% (0 to 100) and 30% (0 to 78). The fraction time pH <4 amounted to 2.3% (0.2 to 23.7) and 1.8% (0.1 to 28.8) after the low and high fat meal, respectively.

Conclusions: In healthy volunteers no difference in post-prandial LESP and GER was seen after a high fat meal compared with an isocaloric and isovolumetric low fat meal. Our results suggest that it is inappropriate to advise GER patients to reduce the fat content of their meals for symptom relief.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake
  • Esophagogastric Junction / physiology*
  • Esophagogastric Junction / physiopathology
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Esophagus / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Pressure
  • Reference Values


  • Dietary Fats