The association of gastrointestinal symptoms with weight, diet, and exercise in weight-loss program participants

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Oct;3(10):992-6. doi: 10.1016/s1542-3565(05)00696-8.


Background & aims: Studies on the relationship between gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and obesity are limited. Research on the relationship between GI symptoms (including irritable bowel syndrome [IBS]), weight, and weight-related behaviors are rare. This study assessed rates of GI symptoms in a sample of obese patients in a weight-loss program and explored relationships among GI symptoms and obesity, binge eating, dieting (fat and fruit/fiber consumption), and physical activity.

Methods: A total of 983 participants (70% women) had a mean body mass index (BMI) of 33.2+/-5.7 kg/m2 (range, 25.1-60.8 kg/m2) and a mean age of 52.7+/-12.4 years (range, 20.4-89.8 y). Participants completed a questionnaire about diet and physical activity and a standardized self-report Rome II questionnaire assessing IBS status and GI symptoms.

Results: In bivariate analyses BMI was associated positively with abdominal pain and diarrhea whereas healthier diet (lower fat and higher fruit/fiber intake) and higher physical activity were associated with fewer GI symptoms. In multivariate models BMI was not associated with GI symptoms; physical activity remained a protective factor.

Conclusions: Although physiologic mechanisms still need to be explored, associations between GI symptoms and diet and exercise behaviors may have implications for the treatment of both obesity and GI symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Bulimia / physiopathology
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires