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  • Pediatric Original Article
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Prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders in obese and overweight children



To compare the prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders such as functional constipation (FC), functional abdominal pain (FAP), functional abdominal pain syndrome (FAPS) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) between a large cohort of healthy obese/overweight children and normal-weight children.


Healthy children between the ages of 4 and 18 years were eligible for recruitment from the Yale Pediatric Primary Care clinic, Yale Adolescent clinic and a local private practice in Orange, CT, USA. Study subjects or their parents were interviewed using a questionnaire based on the ROME III standardized criteria for diagnosing functional gastrointestinal disorders. Medical records were reviewed to collect information about age, gender, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), ethnicity and chronic medical conditions. Children were classified into obese, overweight and normal-weight based on their BMI for age and gender. Data were analyzed to compare the prevalence of FC, FAP, FAPS and IBS between obese/overweight children and normal-weight children.


A total of 450 children (45% males) were recruited. There were 191 (42%) obese/overweight children and 259 (58%) normal-weight children. FAPS (odds ratio (OR) =2.1, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.21–3.64, P=0.007), FC (OR=1.83, 95% CI: 1.12–2.98, P=0.01), and IBS (OR=2.59, 95% CI: 1.40–4.79, P=0.003) were significantly more prevalent in the obese/overweight children than in the normal-weight children. Of the obese/overweight children, 47% had at least one functional gastrointestinal disorder compared with 27% of the normal-weight children (P0.001). Only 36% of the children with functional gastrointestinal disorders sought medical attention for their symptoms.


Obese/overweight children have a higher prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders than normal-weight children. Almost half of the obese/overweight children had at least one functional gastrointestinal disorder.

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We would like to thank Alexandra Friedman (undergraduate student, Yale University) and Gabrielle Guetta (undergraduate student, Colgate University) for their work with enrolling subjects and Yale center for analytical sciences for providing statistical support. This publication was made possible, in part, by support from the Yale Pediatric Faculty Scholars Program and by CTSA Grant Number UL1 TR000142 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS), components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIH roadmap for Medical Research. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NIH.

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Correspondence to U P Phatak.

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Phatak, U., Pashankar, D. Prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders in obese and overweight children. Int J Obes 38, 1324–1327 (2014).

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