Obesity is rocking the world affecting a greater number of people each day putting them at an increased risk of health-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. We now know about this very well, thanks to the repeated articles that appear on magazines, newspapers and even on radios and television. What remains in the dark is the relationship between obesity and abnormal bowel habits. As a society, we hesitate to discuss about bowel habits and refuse to disclose details about it to anyone, even our parents or spouse. We take it to be our personal burden and fight in isolation against inappropriate bowel habits. Its common to blame our eating habits and food practices for repeated recurrence of diarrhoea and other irregular bowel habits and there is no denial in this regard. We also have a number of studies associating between obesity and bowel habits but all of them lacked sufficient evidence for showing that diet or other factors too had a role to play.
A research team monitored the bowel health of more than 5000 participants aged above 20 years without any history of irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer and celiac disease. Each of their BMI measurements were taken and the bowel habits of every participant who had a BMI linked to being underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese and severely obese was taken. Results showed that participants who were obese or severely obese were 60% likelier to experience chronic diarrhoea compared to those who had normal bowel habits or constipation-this was observed after controlling for dietary, diabetes, laxative use, physical activity and demographic factors. Such increased diarrhoea risk in obese individuals could be due to chronic low-grade inflammation.
Multiple other studies too show that the prevalence of diarrhoea in obese people is higher compared to normal-weight individuals. A population-based survey showed the prevalence rate of diarrhoea to be around 30% compared to 17% in normal-weight counterparts. Another study in France showed that functional diarrhoea was linked to BMI in females but not in males. In a group of 1001 Swedish individuals the occurrence of diarrhoea, the urgency to pass stools and nocturnal urgency were dominantly seen among obese participants.
Its been observed that such increased diarrhoea prevalence in obese individuals could be due to changes in bile acids resulting in bile acid diarrhoea, increased colonic transit, greater mucosal permeability or inflammation of the intestine. Even intake of meds such as metformin (for PCOS or diabetes) by obese individuals can result in diarrhoea. This shows that diet changes and medical displacements cannot explain the relationship between obesity and chronic diarrhoea and simply bringing in changes to diet doesn’t displace the risk of chronic diarrhoea. Trying to eliminate obesity by taking precautionary steps in the first place is the best solution. If the individual is already obese, it is highly recommended to take the necessary action to bring about weight loss. Get in touch with reputed dietitians and nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to eliminate the risk of obesity and its related effects with healthy diet programs.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.