Constipation and a low-fiber diet are not associated with diverticulosis

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Dec;11(12):1622-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.06.033. Epub 2013 Jul 23.


Background & aims: Asymptomatic diverticulosis is commonly attributed to constipation caused by a low-fiber diet, although evidence for this mechanism is limited. We examined the associations between constipation and low dietary fiber intake with risk of asymptomatic diverticulosis.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study that analyzed data from 539 individuals with diverticulosis and 1569 without (controls). Participants underwent colonoscopy and assessment of diet, physical activity, and bowel habits. Our analysis was limited to participants with no knowledge of their diverticular disease to reduce the risk of biased responses.

Results: Constipation was not associated with an increased risk of diverticulosis. Participants with less frequent bowel movements (<7/wk) had reduced odds of diverticulosis compared with those with regular bowel movements (7/wk) (odds ratio [OR], 0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.40-0.80). Those reporting hard stools also had reduced odds (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.55-1.02). There was no association between diverticulosis and straining (OR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.59-1.22) or incomplete bowel movement (OR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.61-1.20). We found no association between dietary fiber intake and diverticulosis (OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.71-1.30) in comparing the highest quartile with the lowest (mean intake, 25 vs 8 g/day).

Conclusions: In our cross-sectional, colonoscopy-based study, neither constipation nor a low-fiber diet was associated with an increased risk of diverticulosis.

Keywords: BMI; CI; Database Analysis; Diverticular Disease; NSAID; OR; Risk Factors; body mass index; confidence interval; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug; odds ratio.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy
  • Constipation / complications*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Diverticulum / epidemiology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Risk Assessment