Do fat people fart more?

THIS question may not be appealing to people who have high body mass index (BMI)—a body mass that is often labelled “overweight” or “obese.” The question: Does high body fat increase abdominal bloating? That question is a little technical, though. Here is the more simplified question, and perhaps, more unappealing: Do fat people fart more than their leaner counterparts?

At least one study indicated that is the case.

The study observed that increased BMI was associated with bloating among other symptoms, such as upper abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. It was published in 2004 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology with S. Delgado-Aros as the lead researcher.

However, before you start counting flatulence daily (the normal count, anyway, is 15 times daily), the good news is that the consensus is at best mixed. Two studies disagreed with the Delgado-Aros results.

First, the M. G. van Oijen-led study found no relationship between abdominal symptoms, including flatulence and BMI. The study was published in the Netherland Journal of Medicine in 2006.

The most recent study also found no significant association with high BMI and large abdominal circumference, high subcutaneous (below-skin) fat and high visceral fat area. Visceral fat is the fat surrounding the internal organs of the abdomen, such as the intestines. The study was published this year in the Korean Journal of Gastroenterology. The researchers are Hong Sub Lee, Jai Keun Kim, Joo Sung Sun, and Kwang Jae Lee, both of Ajou University School of Medicine in Suwon. Consequently, Lee and colleagues believed that abdominal bloating may be caused by other conditions, other intra-abdominal fat, such as highly sensitive intestines.

Flatulence can be insomniac, though. Eighteenth century British writer Samuel John admitted: “My nights are flatulent and unquiet.” This is, however, not saying that writers are flatulent. Only the writers can say “Yes” or “No” to that.

Benjamin Franklin can be less scientific in words when he wrote, “He that lives upon hope will die farting.” (Fart Proudly: “Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School,” 1781). His humor was not lost in the original title of this book, which was “A Letter to a Royal Academy about Farting.” Such a royal intention, but this leaves me with an impression that writers may have farted more than non-writers. I cannot say “Yes” or “No” to that.


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