Weight loss has an independent beneficial effect on symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux in patients who are overweight

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1999 Apr;34(4):337-40. doi: 10.1080/003655299750026326.


Background: Weight loss is commonly recommended as part of first-line management of gastrooesophageal reflux disease (GORD) despite the paucity of published clinical trials. The aim of this study was to prospectively assess the independent effect of weight loss on reflux symptoms in overweight individuals with either normal endoscopic findings or grade-I oesophagitis.

Methods: Thirty-four patients were recruited on the basis of a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 23 and symptoms of GORD for at least 6 months. All patients were advised to lose weight. Symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) were scored, using a modified DeMeester questionnaire at 0, 6, and 26 weeks. Patients who were unable to stop taking all medication for control of symptoms were excluded from the study. Changes in weight and symptom score were analysed by using a paired t test. Correlation between change in weight and symptom score was assessed with the Pearson correlation test.

Results: Thirty-four patients were studied (18 men and 16 women) with a mean age of 65 years (range, 24-70 years). The mean weight at recruitment was 83.4 kg (standard deviation (s), 4.5 kg; BMI, 23.5 kg/m2 (s, 2.3 kg/m2). Twenty-seven patients (80% of the total) lost weight with a mean of 4.0 kg (P < 0.01) and improved by a mean reduction of 75% from the initial symptom score (P < 0.001). In nine patients the symptoms disappeared completely. Three patients gained weight and had a deterioration of their symptoms, whereas four patients gained weight but still improved their symptom score. There was a significant direct correlation between weight loss and symptom score (R = 0.548, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: This study has shown a significant association between weight loss and improvement in symptoms of GOR. Patients who are overweight should be encouraged to lose weight as part of the first-line management.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Loss*