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Overweight and obese children suffer more frequently from functional gastrointestinal disorders

Author Prof. E. Harms, University Department of Pediatrics Münster

A prospective study conducted by an Italian working group examined the prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) in 103 overweight and obese children (mean age approx. 10 years, 1/3 overweight, 2/3 obese) in comparison to a normal-weight control group with a similar age and gender distribution [1]. The data to diagnose FGIDs was collected according to the standardised Rome III Diagnostic Criteria. 47.6% of the study subjects showed one or more functional disorders (control group 17.4%), of which 18.4% were constipation (control group 7.8%), functional dyspepsia (collective term) 22.3% (control group 7.0%), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 10.7% (control group 2.6%). The authors of the study consider the results to be in line with the biopsychological conceptual model for the development of FGIDs, in which food and nutritional components, the gut microbial environment, and psychosocial factors are considered to be contributing factors, all of which are also linked to the development of overweight and obesity.

Comment: The authors are correct to only speak of association, because they were not looking for correlation or causality. However, even an association between functional gastrointestinal disorders and overweight has previously been a topic of controversy in the scientific world. This study could now serve as proof of such an association.

[1] Tambucci, R., Quitadamo, P., Ambrosi, M., et al. (2019). Association Between Obesity/Overweight and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in Children. JPGN, 68(4), 517-520.