Recent Blog Articles

In Brief: Rising BMI increases reflux, even in normal-weight women

Updated: October 01, 2006

In Brief

Rising BMI increases reflux, even in normal-weight women

Women who put on a few pounds, even if their body mass index (BMI) remains normal, may be at increased risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to a study conducted at the Harvard Medical School and Boston University School of Medicine. Past research has linked GERD to being overweight or obese, but this study — in the June 2, 2006, New England Journal of Medicine — is the first to suggest that it may result from weight gain in normal-weight people.

GERD arises when stomach contents flow back (reflux) into the esophagus due to a faulty valve at its lower end. Symptoms include heartburn (a burning or painful sensation behind the sternum) and regurgitation (the backflow of refluxed stomach contents into the back of the mouth). Occasional heartburn is generally not a problem, but frequent symptoms — more than twice a week — may be a sign of GERD. Untreated, it can have serious consequences, including esophageal cancer.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.