(HealthDay News) – Obese and overweight adults can improve symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by losing weight, while regaining even small amounts of weight can worsen symptoms, according to a study presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week, held from May 18–21 in Orlando, FL.

Preetika Sinh, MD, from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, and colleagues studied 213 obese and overweight adults in a structured weight loss program who completed a reflux disease questionnaire at baseline and at six and 12 months to assess GERD.

The researchers found that all subjects had lost significant weight at six months, which was associated with a significant reduction in mean GERD score and a significant reduction in the proportion of subjects with GERD (16% vs. 38%). The 172 subjects who had regained substantial weight at 12 months had a significant increase in mean GERD score and an increase in the proportion of subjects with GERD (22% vs. 16%). In women, increased physical activity was associated with an improvement in GERD score independent of weight change, age, or dietary intake.

“This prospective cohort study shows a dynamic relationship between GERD symptoms and body weight – weight loss leading to a significant improvement in GERD symptoms, whereas even a small amount of weight gain (<5%) leading to worsening of symptoms,” Sinh and colleagues conclude.

Two authors disclosed receiving research support from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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