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Does Being Overweight Increase the Chance of Having Heartburn?

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Updated January 27, 2010

Question: Does Being Overweight Increase the Chance of Having Heartburn?
Answer: There have been studies that have shown that being overweight, especially around your middle, can increase your chance of experiencing heartburn. This increases your risk for a number of reasons:
  • There is more pressure against your stomach
  • With this increased pressure on the stomach, stomach contents may be pressing against the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)
  • If there is increased pressure against the LES, it may open when it shouldn't, and can allow stomach acid and other stomach contents to back up into the esophagus

Does this mean if you lose weight you'll never experience heartburn again? Not necessarily, especially if your heartburn is caused by other conditions, such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or if certain foods trigger your heartburn. There are also people who suffer from heartburn who have never been overweight. But if you are overweight or obese, losing weight is good for you even if the heartburn episodes don't entirely disappear. Studies have found when patients lose even 5 to 10 percent of their excess weight, they begin to have fewer heartburn episodes.

You can learn more about weight loss by going to About.com's site on Weight Loss.

Related information:

Sources:

"Information You Can Stomach - Facts & Fallacies about Heartburn and GERD" The American College of Gastroenterology

Rinzler, Carol, and Ken DeVault, MD. Heartburn & Reflux for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2004.

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