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27-07-2010 | Gastroenterology | Article

Obesity in childhood increases risk for GERD


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MedWire News: Obese children have significantly increased risk for developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) compared with those of normal weight, report researchers.

"Childhood obesity, especially extreme childhood obesity, comes with a high risk for many serious health consequences such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer," said lead study author Corinna Koebnick, from Kaiser Permanente Southern California's Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena, USA.

"The takeaway message of our study is that GERD now also is one of the conditions associated with childhood obesity," she said.

Koebnick and colleagues report the results of their study in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. They analyzed cross-sectional data from 690,321 children aged 2-19 years enrolled in an integrated, prepaid health plan from 2007-2008.

The children were stratified by weight according to gender-specific body mass index (BMI) for their age. They were classified as being underweight (below 5th BMI percentile), normal weight (BMI between 5th and 85th percentile), overweight (BMI at or above 85th percentile or 25 kg/m2), moderately obese (BMI at or above 95th percentile or 30 kg/m2), and extremely obese (BMI at or above 1.2 x 95th percentile or 35 kg/m2).

The researchers also assessed the frequency of GERD, which was diagnosed in 1.5% of boys and 1.8% of girls in total.

Compared with normal-weight children aged 6-11 and 12-19 years, those in these age groups who were moderately or extremely obese were a significant 16% and 16% more likely to have GERD, respectively. This association was not seen in children aged 5 years or younger, however.

The increased risk for GERD in obese patients was greatest among those who were extremely obese, with the risk increased 32% among those aged 6-11 years, compared with normal-weight children, and 40% among participants aged 12-19 years.

"Even though some health conditions associated with extreme childhood obesity may not seem important early in life, they can be a significant burden for the patient and a link to other serious conditions later in life," said Koebnick.

"We need to be aware of these links, search for obesity-related conditions and address childhood obesity as a family issue as early as possible," she added.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert