Friday, April 30, 2010
NEW ORLEANS — Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a debilitating problem for sufferers — heartburn, difficulty swallowing, chest pain and acid reflux. According to a Mayo Clinic study that will be presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2010 in New Orleans May 1-5, even moderate weight gain can exacerbate those symptoms, DDW is the largest international gathering of physicians and researcher in the field of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.
The good news, however, according to Michael D. Crowell, Ph.D., FACG, researcher in Gastroenterology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, along with colleagues at the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota, is that weight loss through restriction of calories and increasing physical activity significantly improves symptoms of GERD. Improvements persisted for 18 months for study participants. This study strongly suggests that even moderate weight loss by lifestyle modification in overweight and obese patients may be valuable in treating this condition, according to Dr. Crowell.
The prospective, randomized trial initially evaluated 198 patients who were at least 18 years old and clinically obese, but otherwise "healthy". Their body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fatness, was calculated, and data were obtained on the frequency and severity of GERD-related symptoms.
At six months, 12 months and 18 months, BMI and a measure of abdominal fatness significantly decreased in the participants. GERD symptoms, including heartburn and acid reflux, also decreased significantly at each follow-up period.
"Surgical interventions for morbid obesity have been shown to reduce GERD symptoms," notes Dr. Crowell. "However, few data are available on the effects of weight loss through caloric restriction and behavioral modification on changes in GERD symptoms. These finding suggest that behavioral weight loss also has similar benefits."
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