New research gives clues to link between obesity, abnormal bowel habits

Sept. 18 (UPI) — New research has linked high body mass index to chronic diarrhea, a discovery that could help doctors to better treat the condition, new findings show.

In fact, people with obesity or severe obesity are 60 percent more likely to have chronic diarrhea than those with normal BMI, according to a study published Wednesday in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Researchers think chronic low-grade inflammation may make obese people more susceptible to diarrhea than other groups, the researchers say.

“Our research confirms a positive association between obesity and chronic diarrhea and reveals for the first time that this relationship is not driven by confounding factors such as diet or physical activity level,” study corresponding author Sarah Ballou, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said in a news release.

The researchers compared the bowel habits of more than 5,100 patients over age 20 who were either underweight, normal weight, overweight obese or severely obese. The data came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The patients had no reported history of colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome.

Moving forward, the researchers want to explore how obesity causes this inflammation.

“The treatment of obesity and obesity-related medical conditions requires multidisciplinary management,” said Anthony Lembo, a researcher at BIDMC and study senior author. “Clinicians should be aware of the relationship between obesity and diarrhea, especially considering the potential negative impacts altered bowel habits can have on quality of life.”

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