Digestive problems may impede overweight people from exercising

December 08, 2005

Doctors treating overweight or obese patients often prescribe exercise as part of a regime to take off pounds. However, a new study indicates that some people's ability to exercise may be hampered by a variety of gastrointestinal problems that frequently affect individuals who are overweight.

A team of researchers studying nearly 1,000 men and women participating in a randomized trial evaluating three weight-loss programs in Minnesota found that associations between gastrointestinal symptoms, diet and exercise may have implications for the treatment of both obesity and gastrointestinal problems. The physiological mechanisms linking gastrointestinal symptoms, obesity and exercise still need to be determined, said psychologist Rona Levy, lead author of the study and a University of Washington professor of social work whose research focuses on common gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome in adults.

"Our main finding is that the amount of exercise people in a weight loss program do is related to gastrointestinal symptoms. In statistical terms, this means exercise is protective against gastrointestinal symptoms. This isn't surprising, but it has not been demonstrated before with this population. Science has now validated what people have been guessing," she said.

"But we don't know if this is a 'did the chicken or the egg come first' kind of a thing. We are not sure which is the key, exercise or gastrointestinal symptoms. It is plausible that if a physician put a patient on an exercise program to lose weight the GI problems experienced might hamper the patient's ability to exercise."

People in the study reported experiencing a variety of problems: 19 percent said they had abdominal pain, 13 percent had irritable bowel syndrome, 25 percent had diarrhea and 20 percent had bloating.

Data were collected from a larger two-year study evaluating telephone- and mail-based interventions for weight loss. Seventy percent of the 983 participants were women and all were classified as obese or overweight. Participants ranged in age from 20 to 89.

Levy said the more people weighed the more gastrointestinal symptoms they tended to report. People who began limiting their dietary intake of fat and increased their amount of fiber by eating more vegetables and fruit reported lower levels of GI symptoms. However, when the researchers looked at all the factors together, rather than comparing two of them, these relationships did not come out as the most significant ones.

"This study is another argument for exercise. Even though anyone engaging in a weight-loss program should know that gastrointestinal symptoms may impede their ability to exercise, those symptoms may also be alleviated by exercise," said Levy.

Co-authors of the study are Jennifer Linde and Robert Jeffery, epidemiologists at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Michael Crowell, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic and. Kayla Feld of a Harvard University student.
-end-
The National Institutes of Health funded the research and the study was published in the current issue of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

For more information, contact Levy at (206) 543-5917 or rlevy@u.washington.edu

University of Washington

Related Obesity Articles from Brightsurf:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.

Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.

Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?

Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.

Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.

Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.

Read More: Obesity News and Obesity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.