Gastroesophageal reflux symptoms among Italian university students: epidemiology and dietary correlates using automatically recorded transactions

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TitleGastroesophageal reflux symptoms among Italian university students: epidemiology and dietary correlates using automatically recorded transactions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMartinucci, I, Natilli, M, Lorenzoni, V, Pappalardo, L, Monreale, A, Turchetti, G, Pedreschi, D, Marchi, S, Barale, R, de Bortoli, N
JournalBMC gastroenterology
AbstractBackground: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders worldwide, with relevant impact on the quality of life and health care costs.The aim of our study is to assess the prevalence of GERD based on self-reported symptoms among university students in central Italy. The secondary aim is to evaluate lifestyle correlates, particularly eating habits, in GERD students using automatically recorded transactions through cashiers at university canteen. Methods: A web-survey was created and launched through an app, ad-hoc developed for an interactive exchange of information with students, including anthropometric data and lifestyle habits. Moreover, the web-survey allowed users a self-diagnosis of GERD through a simple questionnaire. As regard eating habits, detailed collection of meals consumed, including number and type of dishes, were automatically recorded through cashiers at the university canteen equipped with an automatic registration system. Results: We collected 3012 questionnaires. A total of 792 students (26.2% of the respondents) reported typical GERD symptoms occurring at least weekly. Female sex was more prevalent than male sex. In the set of students with GERD, the percentage of smokers was higher, and our results showed that when BMI tends to higher values the percentage of students with GERD tends to increase. When evaluating correlates with diet, we found, among all users, a lower frequency of legumes choice in GERD students and, among frequent users, a lower frequency of choice of pasta and rice in GERD students. Discussion: The results of our study are in line with the values reported in the literature. Nowadays, GERD is a common problem in our communities, and can potentially lead to serious medical complications; the economic burden involved in the diagnostic and therapeutic management of the disease has a relevant impact on healthcare costs. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study evaluating the prevalence of typical GERD–related symptoms in a young population of University students in Italy. Considering the young age of enrolled subjects, our prevalence rate, relatively high compared to the usual estimates, could represent a further negative factor for the future economic sustainability of the healthcare system. Keywords: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD, Heartburn, Regurgitation, Diet, Prevalence, University students
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