LAS VEGAS — Patients who maintain a healthy BMI can significantly reduce their risk for diverticulitis, according to a research presented at a poster session during the American Academy of Physician Assistants’ 39th Annual PA Meeting.

Corri Wolf, PA-C, MS, RD, of the New York Institute of Technology in Glen Head, New York, and colleagues performed a retrospective chart review of 71 patients with CT-documented diverticulitis at a single gastroenterology practice to examine the impact of BMI on recurrent diverticulitis, complication rates and location of disease in an ambulatory care population.

Findings were compared to data from a control group consisting of 46 patients with diverticulosis at the same practice.

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The researchers found that fewer than one-fourth of patients with diverticulitis (n=17) had a healthy BMI – 39.4% were overweight (n=28) and 36.6% were obese (n=26) as defined by WHO criteria.

Data also revealed that patients with diverticulitis had higher mean BMI (29.1 kg/m2; 95% CI:27.7-30.5) compared with the control group (27 kg/m2; 95% CI: 26-28), and were significantly younger and more overweight (P<0.05).

“These results underscore the need for Americans to maintain a healthy BMI,” the researchers wrote.

The majority of patients experienced a single episode of diverticulitis (66.2% vs. 33.8% with recurrent episodes) and data indicated that there were no statistically significant differences in BMI between those with single vs. recurrent diverticulitis.

Overall, complications were relatively uncommon and consisted of abscesses formation (n=5), microperferation (n=1), diverticular bleed (n=1) and adhesions (n=1). The researchers found no association between BMI, complication rates or location of disease.

Wolf C. “Obesity and diverticulitis: the relationship between body mass index and disease location, recurrence and complications.” Presented at: American Academy of Physician Assistants’ 39th Annual PA Conference. 2011: Las Vegas, Nevada.