Obesity: a risk factor for severe acute biliary and alcoholic pancreatitis

Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Aug;93(8):1324-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1998.442_l.x.


Objective: In this study we evaluate the association between obesity and complication development in patients with a first-attack acute pancreatitis (AP), and investigate the influence of comorbid factors on this association.

Methods: Medical records of 150 patients with AP were reviewed. General data, AP etiology, admission AP prognostic criteria, and occurrence of complications were recorded. Patients were classified according to body mass index (BMI) as obese (BMI > 25 kg/m2) and nonobese (BMI < or = 25 kg/m2).

Results: Prevalence of obesity was 57%. Thirty-eight percent of the obese patients developed complications as compared with 21% of the nonobese (RR=1.74; 95% CI, 1-2.9). The risk for severe AP increased according to the degree of obesity. Pancreatic and peripancreatic necrosis was more common in obese patients (17.6% vs 6%), as was the incidence of infectious complications. The risk for severe AP was highest in obese patients with either alcoholic (RR=5.3; 95% CI, 1.2-23) or biliary etiology (RR=5.2, 95% CI, 1-26).

Conclusion: Obesity may predispose to a complicated course of AP, especially if it is secondary to alcohol or gallstones. Further studies are needed to establish the precise prognostic value of obesity in AP, as well as the pathogenic mechanisms involved in the process.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pancreatitis / complications*
  • Pancreatitis / epidemiology
  • Pancreatitis, Alcoholic / complications*
  • Pancreatitis, Alcoholic / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric