Dietary intake in relation to self-reported constipation among Japanese women aged 18-20 years

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 May;60(5):650-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602365.


Objective: Information on modifiable lifestyle factors associated with constipation is limited, especially among non-Western populations. We examined associations between dietary intake and self-reported constipation in young Japanese women.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Subjects: A total of 1,705 female Japanese dietetic students aged 18-20 years and free of current disease and current dietary counseling.

Methods: Dietary intake was estimated over a 1-month period with a validated, self-administered, diet history questionnaire, and lifestyle variables including self-reported constipation were assessed by a second questionnaire designed for this survey.

Results: A total of 436 women (26%) reported themselves to be 'constipated'. A multivariate odds ratio (OR) for women in the highest quartile of rice intake was 0.47 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.33, 0.68) compared with the lowest. Additionally, women in the highest category of coffee intake had a multivariate OR of 0.67 (0.47, 0.94) compared with women in the lowest. Conversely, women in the highest quartile of confectionery intake had a multivariate OR of 1.54 (1.12, 2.13) compared with women in the lowest. Moreover, a multivariate OR for constipation for women in the highest quartile of Japanese and Chinese tea intake was 1.49 (1.09, 2.05) compared with women in the lowest. Neither total dietary fiber intake nor other lifestyle factors examined were associated with constipation.

Conclusions: The consumption of rice and coffee was inversely associated with and that of confectioneries and Japanese and Chinese tea was positively associated with a prevalence of self-reported constipation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Coffee
  • Constipation / epidemiology*
  • Constipation / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Life Style*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Oryza
  • Prevalence
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tea


  • Coffee
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Tea