Are Obesity and Diverticular Disease Related?

Obesity has been associated with numerous health conditions.  Its connection with digestive disorders is also a topic of intense research these days. In this context, the relationship between obesity and a digestive disorder called diverticular disease is explored in this article.

Diverticular disease mainly affects the colon or large intestines.  Diverticular disease is an umbrella term for diverticulosis and diverticulitis.  Diverticulosis is the condition of having diverticula, which are small pouches or sacs that form in the wall of the colon (large intestines) that have abnormally bulged outward through weak spots.  Diverticulitis occurs when these pouches or diverticula become inflamed and infected.  Diverticulosis usually remains a symptomatic for the most part but if found is treated with a high fiber diet, plenty of fluids and regular exercise to help diverticulitis from occurring.  Diverticulitis can be quite painful and presents with abdominal pain.  It is usually treated with antibiotics and a low-fiber or even liquid diet until the intestines is healed.  Unfortunately, researchers are not completely clear about what causes this condition however older age and a long-term low fiber diet may be to blame for some. A high fiber diet, plenty of exercise and lots of fluids may help prevent diverticulosis and as mentioned above may help prevent diverticulitis from occurring.

What one research study learned about the link between obesity and diverticular disease:

  • Researchers at the Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Flinders University and Flinders Medical Center, Bedford Park, South Australia wanted to gain knowledge about the possible link between obesity and diverticular disease in January 2006.
  • They observed that a good majority of the patients diagnosed with diverticular disease were above the age of 40 years and were obese.
  • The study showed that patients who had repeated occurrences of diverticulitis were significantly more obese when compared to those who had single episodes of it.

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), a service of NIDDK, NIH, this disease was first diagnosed in the United States around 1900s when processed foods first became available in the market.  The practice of consuming these foods in excess due to their cheap and easy affordability has reduced the intake of fiber-rich foods in the decades that followed. Sedentary lifestyle ensured lack of exercise, which all attributed to more and more health complications every passing day.

Numerous studies have shown a definite correlation between acute diverticulitis and obesity.  At this point it seems that those that maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) are less likely to experience episodes of diverticulitis.  In addition a healthy diet including plenty of fiber and regular exercise are necessary for good bowel health.  Just one more reason for Americans to reach their healthy weight.


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