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To examine a possible link between childhood obesity and constipation, Dinesh S. Pashankar, MD, MRCP, and Vera Loening-Baucke, MD, conducted a study to evaluate the prevalence of obesity in a population of children with functional constipation, compared with control children. Obesity was classified as body mass index (BMI) of >95th percentile and severe obesity as BMI ≥5 kg/m2 above the 95th percentile for age and sex. Reporting in Pediatrics (September 2005), the researchers found that the overall prevalence of obesity was significantly higher in children with constipation (22.4%) than in control children (11.7%). This higher prevalence also was seen for severe obesity.
Prevalence rates of obesity were significantly higher in boys than in girls with constipation (25% vs 19%, respectively) and were significantly higher than in controls (boys, 13.5%; girls, 9.8%). Boys with constipation had significantly higher rates of obesity, compared with their control counterparts in all age groups. Girls with constipation had significantly higher obesity rates than their counterparts, but only for ages 8 to 17. These results suggested that there is a link between obesity and constipation in children. Other factorssuch as diet, exercise, and hormonal influencesmay also play a role.