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Metabolic syndrome and visceral obesity as risk factors for reflux oesophagitis: a cross-sectional case–control study of 7078 Koreans undergoing health check-ups


Background: Obesity has been associated with reflux oesophagitis. However, the relationship between metabolic syndrome characterised by visceral obesity and reflux oesophagitis is unclear.

Aim: To investigate whether metabolic syndrome or visceral obesity is a risk factor for reflux oesophagitis.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 7078 subjects undergoing upper endoscopy during health check-ups was conducted (3539 patients with reflux oesophagitis vs age- and sex-matched controls). We further analysed according to categories of visceral adipose tissue and subcutaneous adipose tissue area with 750 cases and age-, sex- and waist circumference-matched controls who underwent abdominal CT scan.

Results: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was higher in cases than controls (26.9% vs 18.5%, p<0.001). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that metabolic syndrome is associated with reflux oesophagitis (odds ratio (OR) = 1.42; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.26 to 1.60). Among the individual components of metabolic syndrome, waist circumference (OR = 1.47; 95% CI, 1.30 to 1.65) and triglyceride (OR = 1.20; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.36) independently increased the risk for reflux oesophagitis. On sub-analysis, cases showed higher mean visceral adipose tissue area (cm2) (136.1 (SD 57.8) vs 124.0 (SD 54.7), p<0.001) and subcutaneous adipose tissue area (cm2) (145.9 (SD 56.8) vs 133.5 (SD 50.7), p<0.001). However, only visceral adipose tissue area was an independent risk factor for reflux oesophagitis after adjusting for multiple confounders including smoking, alcohol, body mass index (BMI) and subcutaneous adipose tissue area (OR = 1.60; 95% CI, 1.03 to 2.48, lowest quartile vs highest quartile).

Conclusions: Metabolic syndrome was associated with reflux oesophagitis. Abdominal obesity, especially visceral obesity, was an important risk factor for reflux oesophagitis.

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