Preventing GERD: Gain A Little and Feel the Burn
Is your waistline beginning to get snug and your chest starting to burn? Gaining a few pounds, even if you are still at a healthy weight, can increase your risk of developing acid reflux disease.
While the connection between obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has been known for some time, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have discovered that even the smallest amount of weight gain can begin to increase one's risk of developing GERD and the painful heartburn that goes along with it.
The interesting part of the findings, the authors note, is that even if a woman gains some weight, but remains at a healthy body-mass index (BMI), her risk of reflux disease rises.
"Even moderate amounts of weight gain, even among normal-weight persons, may result in the development or exacerbation of symptoms for gastroesophageal reflux disease," writes Dr. Brian Jacobson and colleagues in The New England Journal of Medicine.
For the study, Jacobson gave over 10,000 women a questionnaire about their body mass index and how often and severely they suffer from symptoms of GERD, such as heartburn.
Of the women surveyed, those with a BMI under 20, considered to be at a low weight, were 33 percent less likely to have symptoms of GERD than those with a BMI between 20 and 22.4, still within the normal range for a healthy weight.
The researchers do not completely understand how weight gain causes GERD symptoms, but they do not think diet itself is to blame. After controlling for the various dietary factors known to increase heartburn, they found no difference in their results. Hormonal changes that occur with weight gain, as well as some physical changes, they say, may be the more likely culprit.