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Categories > Diet and Nutrition > Weight management

Big bellies, big problems
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With 34 percent of American adults weighing in as obese, our collective waistline is a big deal. Excess weight has been linked to osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And it can do a number on digestion. Losing weight can help prevent digestive distress. Below are three common conditions obese people face:

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

What it is: Stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation.

Why obesity matters: Excess weight puts pressure on your stomach and diaphragm.

See your healthcare provider if you have: Heartburn several times a week that keeps you up at night, difficulty swallowing, blood in your mouth or black stool.

Prevent it: Take prescribed medicines; sit up for three hours after meals; and avoid cigarettes, greasy and fatty foods, onions, garlic and chocolate.

Diverticulitis

What it is: Half of people ages 60 and older have diverticula—harmless bulging pouches in their digestive tracts. But if the pouches become infected, it will cause diverticulitis.

Why obesity matters: No one’s sure why, but it increases chances of developing diverticulitis.

See your healthcare provider if you have: Severe and sudden pain in your lower left abdomen, fever, nausea and stool changes.

Prevent it: Eat more fiber, drink more water, use the bathroom at first urge and exercise more.

Hiatal hernia

What it is: The stomach pushes through the diaphragm where it connects to the esophagus, causing heartburn and chest pain.

Why obesity matters: Excess weight puts pressure on your stomach and diaphragm.

See your healthcare provider if you have: Frequent heartburn, belching, nausea and chest pain that worsen when leaning forward, straining, lifting or lying down, or are coupled with a sore throat or trouble breathing or swallowing.

Prevent it: Skip alcohol and cigarettes, avoid tight clothing, keep meals small and, after eating, wait two hours to exercise and three hours to lie down.