Prevalence and risk factors for gastroesophageal reflux disease in an impoverished minority population

Frank K. Friedenberg, Jitha Rai, Vishwas Vanar, Charles Bongiorno, Deborah B. Nelson, Mayur Parepally, Arashdeep Poonia, Amol Sharma, Shaun Gohel, Joel E. Richter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: An epidemiological link between an increased body mass index and complaints of typical heartburn symptoms has been identified. It appears that increasing waist circumference, rather than overall weight is most important. Studies to date have not included minority, impoverished communities. Our aim was to determine the impact of obesity on the prevalence of reflux disease in an impoverished community while controlling for known confounders. Methods: Design: Cross-sectional survey delivered by in-home interviews, convenience sampling, and targeted mailing. Data queried include demographics, medical history, lifestyle habits, and symptoms of reflux disease. Height, weight, hip and waist circumference measured in participating subjects. Participants: 503 subjects living in the zip code immediately surrounding Temple University Hospital. Included only adults living in the hospital's zip code for at least 3 years. Results: The highest quartile of waist circumference (≥42 in.) demonstrated a strong association with GERD (AOR =2.15; 95% CI 1.18-3.90). Smoking increased the odds by 1.72 (95% CI 1.13-2.62). There was no relationship between body mass index, waist-hip ratio, or diet and reflux classification. Conclusions: Increasing waist circumference, but not overall body mass index or waist-hip ratio, and smoking are risk factors for prevalent GERD. No association between reflux disease and lifestyle choices such as coffee drinking and fast food dining were found. Limitations: Potential for recall bias and disease misclassification. Possible methodological errors in self-measurement of waist and hip circumference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e261-e269
JournalObesity Research and Clinical Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Minority
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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