Background and aims: Recent papers highlight the role of the diet in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but very few population-based studies have evaluated this. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of IBS in the general urban population and to evaluate the type of diet associated with IBS symptoms.
Methods: A randomized sample of subjects (n=300) from a general urban population in Romania selected from family doctors' patient lists was invited for interview in the doctor's office. Selected subjects were evaluated for the diagnosis of IBS using Rome III criteria and for their eating habits and diet using a food frequency questionnaire. Socio-demographic factors and general medical history were also included in the interview together with standard weight measurements. Results from logistic regression were presented as odd ratios and 95 % confidence intervals.
Results: From the selected sample, 193 subjects (80 males, 113 women, mean age 50.8 +/- 16.2) agreed to participate (rate 64.3%). Prevalence of IBS was 19.1 % (19.4% for females and 18.7 % for males). IBS was associated with older age (1.05, 1.02-1.08, p <0.001) and past history of digestive diseases (5.0, 2.0-12.7, p<0.01). IBS subjects eat significantly more frequently canned food (23.74, 3.17-177.7, p<0.01), processed meat (4.7, 1.6-14.1, p<0.01), pulses (legumes) (4.0, 1.3-16.3, p<0.01), whole cereals (8.7, 2.0-37.8, p<0.01), confectionary (5.7, 1.8-23.2, p<0.01), fruit compotes (canned or not) (7.4, 2.5-23.1, p<0.001) and herb teas (4.0, 1.3-16.3, p<0.001).
Conclusions: This study updates prevalence data and reveals a possible association between diet and irritable bowel syndrome.