Risks

The Link Between Reflux and Obesity

Stephanie Health Guide July 15, 2010
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    Ordinarily, I like to read the recent research and write shareposts about what’s new and upcoming in the world of reflux. This week the big news is that a study by Koebnick, et al showed that children over six who are moderately to severely obese are more likely to have reflux.  In fact, they found a 30% increased risk.

     

    By all standards this was a good study. It retrospectively looked at the records of almost 700,000 children. It showed that obesity was not associated with reflux in children less than 6. Studies of this size are very powerful and generally very good at showing a link between two things but what doesn’t this study show? It doesn’t show that obesity in fact caused reflux in these children – after all, if it was that cut and dry why didn’t all the obese kids have signs of reflux? Also, do we know the chicken vs. the egg in this scenario? Is it possible that the reflux caused the obesity?

     

    I spent my childhood fluctuating between overweight to risking obesity. In retrospect, I had severe reflux as a baby but was fine UNTIL about 4 years ago. But, interestingly enough – I am now according to the experts at my ideal body weight. I work out daily and I don’t drink, smoke or eat greasy foods. So, if obesity is the answer why am I sick with reflux now that I’m according to the experts “healthy”? Actually, my first signs of reflux started after I lost about 50 pounds in my senior year of high school.

     

    My mother has often told me that when her reflux is really bad, the only relief she can get is to get up and eat a couple of crackers. Isn’t it possible that if you eat to help the symptoms of reflux that this may not help your weight? Could this wind up being a downward spiral? I know from Jan Gambino’s shareposts and answered questions that while most people expect babies with reflux to be underweight there are those who eat to soothe their throats and wind up as very big babies. It’s likely that many adults do the same and don’t even realize it. Unfortunately, I know my grandfather used whiskey to make his stomach pain go away.

     

    So, I’m writing this sharepost because I’m personally getting tired of people looking at those who aren’t of ideal body weight and assuming everything is their fault. Every single report about this research that I looked at had a picture of a slovenly child watching TV eating a greasy burger. I wish it were that simple. Sure, we could all stand to eat better, exercise more and watch our excesses, but please can’t we stop pointing the finger at anyone who doesn’t fit into a size 2? (Which by the way despite being at my “ideal body weight” I’m nowhere close to a size 2).

     

    Koebnick, et. al. (2010). Extreme childhood obesity is associated with increased risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease in a large population-based study. International Journal of Childhood Obesity.