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Association between dietary fiber, water and magnesium intake and functional constipation among young Japanese women



Most research on constipation has focused on dietary fiber intake. Here, we examined the intake of water and magnesium, nutrients possibly associated with constipation, as well as that of dietary fiber in relation to constipation.


Cross-sectional study.


A total of 3835 female Japanese dietetic students aged 18–20 years from 53 institutions in Japan.


Dietary intake was estimated with a validated, self-administered diet history questionnaire. Functional constipation was defined using the Rome I criteria.


The prevalence of functional constipation was 26.2%. Neither dietary fiber intake (mean=6.4 g/4186 kJ) nor intakes of total water and water from fluids were associated with constipation. Conversely, low intake of water from foods was associated with an increasing prevalence of constipation. In comparison with women in the first (lowest) quintile, the multivariate adjusted odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval (CI)) for women in the second, third, fourth, and fifth quintiles were 0.72 (0.57, 0.90), 0.78 (0.62, 0.98), 0.71 (0.56, 0.89), and 0.77 (0.61, 0.97), respectively (P for trend=0.04). Additionally, low magnesium intake was associated with increasing prevalence of constipation. Compared with women in the first quintile, the multivariate adjusted OR (95% CI) for women in the second, third, fourth and fifth quintiles were 0.70 (0.56, 0.88), 0.75 (0.60, 0.95), 0.73 (0.58, 0.92) and 0.79 (0.63, 0.996), respectively (P for trend=0.09).


Low intakes of water from foods and magnesium are independently associated with an increasing prevalence of functional constipation among a population whose dietary fiber intake is relatively low.

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We thank the students for their generous participation in the study. The members of the Freshmen in Dietetic Courses Study II Group (in addition to the authors) are as follows (shown in alphabetical order of the affiliation): S Awata (Beppu University); T Watanabe and A Suzuki (Chiba College of Health Science); T Abe (Doshisha Women's College); H Hayabuchi (Fukuoka Women's University); R Ueda (Futaba Nutrition College); N Takeda and T Matsubara (Hiroshima Bunkyo Women's University); H Ohwada and K Hirayama (Ibaraki Christian University); C Maruyama (Japan Women's University); M Makino (Jin-ai Women's College); S Tanaka and N Nagasawa (Jumonji University); F Tonozuka and S Osada (Junior College of Kagawa Nutrition University); K Uenishi (Kagawa Nutrition University); T Sagara (Kanazawa Gakuin College); Y Enomoto, K Okayama and H Ooe (Kitasato Junior College of Health and Hygienic Sciences); K Nakayama and M Furuya (Kochi Gakuen College); N Yagi and K Soeda (Koshien University); J Ikeda (Kyoto Bunkyo Junior College); I Kitagawa (Kyoto Koka Women's University); K Yokoyama and R Nakayama (Kyoto Women's University); A Miura (Kwassui Women's College); K Baba (Mie Chukyo University Junior College); Y Sugiyama and M Furuki (Minami Kyushu University); T Oyama (Miyagi Gakuin Women's University); Y Naito and M Kato (Mukogawa Women's University); N Hirota (Nagano Prefectural College); T Tsuji and K Washino (Nagoya Bunri University); T Yawata and C Shimamura (Nara Saho College); N Murayama (Niigata University of Health and Welfare); R Watanabe (Niigata Women's College); M Yamasaki (Nishikyusyu University); M Kitamura (Osaka Aoyama College); T Iwamoto (Prefectural University of Hiroshima); I Suzuki and Y Sugishima (Prefectural University of Kumamoto); M Aoki (Sanyo Gakuen College); S Nishi (Seibo Jogakuin Junior College); K Toyama and R Amamoto (Seinan Jo Gakuin University); N Takahashi and R Sasaki (Sendai Shirayuri Women's College); N Kakibuchi (Setouchi Junior College); M Goto (Shokei Gakuin College); M Watanabe and M Yokotsuka (Showa Women's University); M Kimura (Takasaki University of Health and Welfare); M Hara and N Kiya (Tenshi College); J Hirose, T Fukui and K Shibata (The University of Shiga Prefecture); R Nishiyama (Toita Women's College); N Tomita (Tokiwa Junior College); J Oka and T Ide (Tokyo Kasei University); T Uemura and T Furusho (Tokyo University of Agriculture); A Notsu and Y Yokoyama (Tottori College); T Kuwamori (Toyama College); S Shirono (Ube Frontier College); T Goda (University of Shizuoka); K Suizu (Yamaguchi Prefectural University); H Okamoto (Yamanashi Gakuin Junior College).

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Correspondence to S Sasaki.

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Guarantor: S Sasaki.

Contributors: KM was involved in the study designing, data collection and data management; created a constipation questionnaire, conducted the statistical analyses and wrote the manuscript. SS was responsible for the study designing, data collection, data management, and the overall management, and assisted in the manuscript preparation. HO was involved in the study designing. YT assisted in the manuscript preparation. YH was involved in the study designing, data collection and data management. MI was involved in data collection and data management. All the authors provided suggestions during the preparation of the manuscript and approved the final version submitted for publication.

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Murakami, K., Sasaki, S., Okubo, H. et al. Association between dietary fiber, water and magnesium intake and functional constipation among young Japanese women. Eur J Clin Nutr 61, 616–622 (2007).

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  • dietary fiber intake
  • water intake
  • magnesium intake
  • functional constipation
  • Japanese women
  • epidemiology

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