The association between gastroesophageal reflux disease and obesity

Am J Gastroenterol. 2008 Aug;103(8):2111-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2008.01946.x.


Nearly all epidemiologic studies have found an association between increasing body mass index (BMI) and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Changes in gastroesophageal anatomy and physiology caused by obesity may explain the association. These include an increased prevalence of esophageal motor disorders, diminished lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure, the development of a hiatal hernia, and increased intragastric pressure. Central adiposity may be the most important risk for the development of reflux and related complications such as Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Weight loss, through caloric restriction and behavioral modification, has been studied infrequently as a means of improving reflux. Bariatric surgery and its effects on a number of obesity-related disorders have been studied more extensively. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) has been consistently associated with improvement in the symptoms and findings of GERD. The mechanism of action through which this surgery is successful at improving GERD may be independent of weight loss and needs further examination. Current evidence suggests that laparoscopic adjusted gastric banding should be avoided in these patients as the impact on gastroesophageal reflux disease appears unfavorable.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / physiopathology*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Weight Loss