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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

Study: Acid Reflux on the Rise

Obesity Increase Likely to Blame, Researchers Say
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Not All GERD Patients Overweight

More research is needed to understand why some patients get better over time, says New York City gastroenterologist Anthony Starpoli, MD.

“This is a very common problem, and it is interesting that there appear to be patients who get better,” he says. “We don’t know if it is because they were more careful about what they ate or if they lost weight, but it is worth finding out.”

Starpoli, who is associate director of esophageal endotherapy at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, says he is seeing a growing number of patients with GERD and esophageal cancer.

Many are overweight and have eating habits that go hand-in-hand with acid reflux, but others are not overweight and are very careful to eat well.

“This is not just a disease of older people and people who are overweight,” Starpoli says. “I have many young patients whose weight is normal and they still have terrible reflux.”

In addition to weight loss, lifestyle factors that can improve acid reflux include:

  • Avoid large meals before bedtime. Eating meals at least two to three hours before lying down will give food time to empty from the stomach before bed.
  • Avoid overeating. Eating four to five small meals is better than three large ones for avoiding heartburn and reflux.
  • Avoid personal heartburn triggers. For some people it might be chocolate and caffeine. For others it might be fruit juices or high-fat foods.
  • Stop smoking and avoid alcohol.

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