NEW YORK , 04 feb 2009 – Obese people appear to be at increased risk for diverticulitis and for bleeding diverticula, results of a new study indicate.
Diverticula are small pouches that form in the lining of the colon and are very common in older adults. Diverticulitis occurs when the diverticula become inflamed and infected, which can be a serious, even life-threatening, problem. Diverticula may also bleed, which can be an equally serious problem.
"A number of digestive diseases have been associated with obesity," note Dr. Lisa L. Strate, of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, and colleagues. "Some of the obesity-related (factors) believed to play a role in these disorders may also influence diverticular complications, most notably the link between obesity and chronic inflammation."
To investigate further, the team examined data for 47,228 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up study. They were between the ages of 40 and 75 years and free of diverticular disease when the study began in 1986 and were followed until 2004.
A total of 801 cases of diverticulitis and 383 cases of diverticular bleeding occurred during follow-up, according to the report, published in the journal Gastroenterology.
The analysis showed that obese men were 78 percent more likely to develop diverticulitis and 219 percent more likely to develop diverticular bleeding than were normal weight men.
Similarly, a big waistline increased the odds of diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding by 56 and 96 percent, respectively.
Lastly a high waist-to-hip ratio was also linked to both problems, regardless of whether the man was obese or not.
"An association between body fat and diverticular complications has important clinical implications," they conclude, "given the increasing prevalence of these disorders and the considerable risk of recurrent complications."