Prevalence and risk factors of gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms among adolescents, the HUNT study

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2024 Jul;59(7):816-820. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2024.2349646. Epub 2024 May 16.


Background: Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is recognized by symptoms of heartburn and acid regurgitation. These gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms (GORS) are common in adults, but data from adolescents are sparse. This study aimed to assess the prevalence and risk factors of GORS among adolescents in a large and unselected population.

Methods: This study was based on the Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT), a longitudinal series of population-based health surveys conducted in Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway. This study included data from Young-HUNT4 performed in 2017-2019, where all inhabitants aged 13-19 years were invited and 8066 (76.0%) participated. The presence of GORS (any or frequent) during the past 12 months and tobacco smoking status were reported through self-administrated questionnaires, whereas body mass index (BMI) was objectively measured.

Results: Among 7620 participating adolescents reporting on the presence of GORS, the prevalence of any GORS and frequent GORS was 33.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 32.2 - 34.3%) and 3.6% (95% CI 3.2 - 4.0%), respectively. The risk of frequent GORS was lower among boys compared to girls (OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.46 - 0.79), higher in current smokers compared to never smokers (OR 1.80; 95% CI 1.10 - 2.93) and higher among obese compared to underweight/normal weight adolescents (OR 2.50; 95% CI 1.70 - 3.66).

Conclusion: A considerable proportion of adolescents had GORS in this population-based study, particularly girls, tobacco smokers, and individuals with obesity, but frequent GORS was relatively uncommon. Measures to avoid tobacco smoking and obesity in adolescents may prevent GORS.

Keywords: Epidemiology; acid regurgitation; cross-sectional; heartburn; population-based.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Heartburn / epidemiology
  • Heartburn / etiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult