Body weight, lifestyle, dietary habits and gastroesophageal reflux disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Apr 14;15(14):1690-701. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.1690.


While lifestyle modifications are currently used as first-line treatment for subjects with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the pathogenetic role of lifestyle factors and consequently, the efficacy of lifestyle measures is controversial. Our aim was to systematically review the pathogenetic link between overweight/obesity, dietary habits, physical activity and GERD, and the beneficial effect of specific recommended changes, by means of the available literature from the 1999 to the present. Obesity, in particular, abdominal obesity, plays a key role in determining GERD symptoms and complications through mechanical and metabolic effects. Controlled weight loss (by diet or surgery) is effective in improving GERD symptoms. No definitive data exist regarding the role of diet and, in particular, of specific foods or drinks, in influencing GERD clinical manifestations. Moderate physical activity seems to be beneficial for GERD, while vigorous activity may be dangerous in predisposed individuals. In conclusion, being obese/overweight and GERD-specific symptoms and endoscopic features are related, and weight loss significantly improves GERD clinical-endoscopic manifestations. The role of dietary behavior, mainly in terms of specific dietary components, remains controversial. Mild routine physical activity in association with diet modifications, i.e. a diet rich in fiber and low in fat, is advisable in preventing reflux symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight*
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / etiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Loss