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Epidemiology and symptom profile of gastroesophageal reflux in the Indian population: Report of the Indian Society of Gastroenterology Task Force

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and its complications are thought to be infrequent in India; there are no data from India on the prevalence of and risk factors for GERD. The Indian Society of Gastroenterology formed a task force aiming to study: (a) the frequency and profile of GERD in India, (b) factors including diet associated with GERD.


In this prospective, multi-center (12 centers) study, data were obtained using a questionnaire from 3224 subjects regarding the frequency, severity and duration of heartburn, regurgitation and other symptoms of GERD. Data were also obtained regarding their dietary habits, addictions, and lifestyle, and whether any of these were related or had been altered because of symptoms. Data were analyzed using univariate and multivariate methods.


Two hundred and forty-five (7.6%) of 3224 subjects had heartburn and/or regurgitation at least once a week. On univariate analysis, older age (OR 1.012; 95% CI 1.003–1.021), consumption of non-vegetarian and fried foods, aerated drinks, tea/coffee were associated with GERD. Frequency of smoking was similar among subjects with or without GERD. Body mass index (BMI) was similar in subjects with and without GERD. On multivariate analysis, consumption of non-vegetarian food was independently associated with GERD symptoms. Overlap with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome was not uncommon; 21% reported difficulty in passage of stool and 9% had mucus in stools. About 25% of patients had consulted a doctor previously for their gastrointestinal symptoms.


7.6% of Indian subjects have significant GERD symptoms. Consumption of non-vegetarian foods was an independent predictor of GERD. BMI was comparable among subjects with or without GERD.

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The ISG Task Force thanks Zydus Alidac, Ahmedabad, India for an unconditional academic financial grant. We also wish to thank Mrs Thilaga Murugesh for designing the database and Mrs Namrata Shinde for data entry.

Contribution statement

S J Bhatia was the co-ordinator of the task force, and collated and analyzed the data, and wrote the draft manuscript and edited it. D N Reddy, P Abraham, G Choudhuri, and S L Broor chaired the Task Force. P Abraham, U C Ghoshal and V Jayanthi assisted in the analysis of data and writing the manuscript. The rest of the contributors provided data and valuable inputs. Their names of the rest of contributors are listed in alphabetical order in the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Shobna J. Bhatia.

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Bhatia, S.J., Reddy, D.N., Ghoshal, U.C. et al. Epidemiology and symptom profile of gastroesophageal reflux in the Indian population: Report of the Indian Society of Gastroenterology Task Force. Indian J Gastroenterol 30, 118–127 (2011).

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