Nutrition Articles

High BMI Increases GERD Risk

Health News Flash

82SHARES
Being overweight is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other serious medical conditions. Recently though, medical researchers have added another potential consequence to the list: gastroesophageal reflux disorder, commonly known as GERD.

GERD is a condition in which the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus fails to close properly, allowing the contents of the stomach (food and stomach acid) to enter the esophagus. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn, acid regurgitation, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing. Besides this discomfort, GERD can lead to more serious complications (like esophageal cancer) when left untreated.

Research reported in The American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that excess body weight increases a person's risk of GERD symptoms. In this study, obese people (defined as a body mass index greater than 30) were 2.5 times more likely to have reflux symptoms or esophageal erosions than people with "normal" BMIs (between 18.5 and 24.9). They were also nearly three times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than those with a healthy body weight.

Action Sparked
Although researchers aren’t sure whether losing weight would reverse GERD—more studies will explore this possibility—there are plenty of other reasons to achieve a healthy weight. Keep in mind that people of a healthy weight may also experience this condition. Either way, if you are experiencing symptoms of GERD, be sure to check with your doctor to avoid future complications.
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1  
82SHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

Connect With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I was diagnosed last summer/fall, but had had GERD symptoms for years, thinking it was just one of those things. If it got too bad I'd wean myself off coffee for a couple months. It wasn't until it was attacking my esophogus and vocal chords that I was scared enough to commit 100% to living a cleaner lifestyle. Fortunately I dodged the cancer boat. I had already lost some weight, about 20-25 over the last year, and the same amount the tear before that. But I cut out refined sugar, carbonated beverages, coffee, chocolate, caffeine in general, alcohol, fried food, processed meat, pork and worked out for at least an hour 4-6 days a week. I went on prilosec for about a month, but weaned off of it once my esophogus healed. In the process I lost about 60 pounds, and got out of the "obese" category for the first time in over a decade and I stopped having symptoms. I don't think you are ever "cured" from GERD or related vocal chord dysfunction, but I'm in sort of a remission and I'm pretty sure engaging in the above behaviors would get me back to square one. - 3/24/2014 8:13:45 AM
  • I was diagnosed with Gerd several years ago,and was told I had to lose weight. I am also on medication everyday for it. So I am here to try and improve my lifestyle, lose weight, and eat better. - 6/3/2012 12:03:14 PM
  • If you want immediate relief you might try what worked for me, and that was cutting all sugar out of my diet. It not only stopped the GERD symptoms right away, but also helped me to lose weight. If I do eat a sugary food, it comes right back. This might not work for everyone, but it was like an "off" switch for me. - 6/12/2011 4:06:07 PM
  • I found losing 40# has decreased my GERD for two reasons. Without all that fat in my oversized belly, I can sit, bend over, and lie down without the fat in my abdomen pushing up and squeezing my stomach. The biggie is eating small, frequent meals. I find GERD becomes worse with either a too-full stomach (obviously) or a totally empty one--hunger seems to stimulate more acid and if there is nothing for it to work on, it heads up the esophagus. It takes only a small, well-timed, low cal snack halfway between small meals to stop that reaction. I would not be surprised if reaching my goal weight will end up costing Prilosec one of its best customers. - 3/21/2011 9:43:40 AM
  • I personally think the study is too blanket. It is like saying people with a 30+ BMI will wear larger pants than someone with a 24. generally speaking overweight people are sedetary. I think that lack of action is more to blame than being overweight. - 10/9/2010 8:59:13 PM
  • I have suffered with GERD for years, even when I was thinner. It bothered didn't bother me so much during the day, as at night. I am careful about most of the other contributing factors. And I tried all the types of acid reduction meds without success. I had lots of side effects, mostly pain under the ribs. I also tried sleeping with extra pillows but read somewhere that actually can exacerbate things if you are bent in the chest area. So I invested in a good bed wedge. It took me a while to get used to as I am a side sleeper Not being able to tolerate meds, this has worked quite well for me. The side benefit has been a marked reduction in my number of sinus infections, which I understand can also be a problem with GERD. - 6/22/2010 9:21:34 AM
  • GODSTABERNACLE
    I used to have a horrible problem with gastristis and esophagal reflux disease when I was 18 years old. I am 47 years old. I got up to 200lbs. Lost about 15 pounds. I have gained back about 15 pounds since I lost weight. I refuse to go through that horrible time again. I noticed a symptom last saturday. The heartburn was so bad that I couldn't talk or move. I am definitely shedding the pounds. It is one thing to be overweight but a health issue in addition to that - I will not tolerate. More motivation to stay on task. We only get one body and one life to live. Thank you Spark for shedding light on the subject and Getting me back serious again - 6/16/2010 7:08:42 PM
  • When I was 20 pounds heavier, I was diagnosed with GERD after landing in the ER thinking I might be having a heart attack. Since I have lost weight, I've been able to stop taking medication and resume eating spicy and acidic foods. I feel very fortunate that I was able to resume a normal life just by losing weight. - 3/21/2010 1:01:34 PM
  • I have had acid reflux for years and been on medication all this time. I am at least 30 pounds overweight, but even the doctor never told me that losing weight might help with the acid reflux. Sometimes I wake up in the night with this awful acid in my throat and I have to get up and take an OTC acid reducer in addition to the daily prescription med. I also take Tums occasionally. I just discovered SparkPeople about two weeks ago and I also joined a health club. I have been tracking my food and did well until my granddaughter came to spend the weekend and I got "off" a little. Also been going to gym daily except for snow days. Will let you know later if my problem improves. - 2/16/2010 9:45:40 AM
  • Well, I just got a health lecture from my grown son, 1 day after I signed up with SparkPeople. Now, last night was another night of no sleep thanks to what I now understand is GERD...choking, bloating, stomach pain. It's all converging and it is time for me to lose the weight. I'm 56 years old and it's not getting any better. I'm so thankful I found this site....now to clean my kitchen and get busy! - 1/18/2010 10:42:16 AM
  • AIDELADE27
    I was just diagnosed with a less sever form of GERD and it is not fun to have. I'm hoping with a little weight loss I won't be taking my medication for life. - 2/22/2009 10:16:48 PM
  • My GERD cleared just as soon as I got on a good program with all healthy food in the correct portions.!!! - 2/19/2009 10:43:11 PM
  • NADEEN3
    HI ,I USE TO HAVE THAT PROBLEM BUT SINCE I LOST 51 LBS ITS NOT SO BAD.SO STAYING ON THE RIGHT DIET HELPS .SO BEING OVERWEIGHT MADE THE PROBLEM WITH GERD WORST BUT SINCE I LOST WEIGHT IT NOT SO BAD.THANKS TO ALL THE SPARKS COMMENTS OUT THERE REALLY HELP.THANKS SPARK.KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK EVERYONE WE ALL NEED A INCOURAGING WORD TO KEEP GOING EVERYDAY.GOOD LUCK EVERYONE OUT THERE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT. - 6/15/2008 9:18:52 AM
  • I have noticed as well that when I am on a healthy eating plan, and exercising that the GERD disappears. When I gain, it comes back something awful. Zantac doesnt touch it. Unfortunately, that is why I am here right now (its 615AM)and have been up since 530 AM. It did not matter how many pillows I propped myself on, I could not sleep.
    I am going to pop in a movie and get on my elliptical for an hour. This is the last night 's sleep I am going to lose! - 3/13/2008 6:32:31 AM
  • LILJAYANGEL
    Before even losing weight, cleaning up my diet relieved me of virtually all reflux episodes. I have been off my prescription strength prilosec for more than 6 months now. Only time I get reflux now is when I have the occassional "cheat" and drink soda. Definately a clean healthy diet helps! - 2/22/2008 2:07:15 PM

x Lose 10 Pounds by October 28! Get a FREE Personalized Plan