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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Mar;22(3):327-33. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0b013e32832b9c53.

Sex differences in dietary coping with gastrointestinal symptoms.

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Department of Medicine and Health, Community Medicine, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.



Nutritional changes are often considered first-line treatment in public health diseases that apply to many gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, as different food and beverages may modulate GI motor and sensory functions, and may provoke GI symptoms. The aim of this study was to examine dietary coping and possible changes in food and beverage intake in relation to GI symptoms reported by identified irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients compared with healthy controls, and whether any sex differences were observed in these respects.


A population-based case-control design was used. Three primary healthcare centres were selected in the city of Linköping in Sweden. The IBS patients were recruited from the studied primary healthcare centers on the basis of diagnoses from computerized medical records. The controls were randomly selected from the general population in the same region. A questionnaire was used with specific questions about self-reported food and beverage increase or decrease of GI symptoms and self-reported changes in dietary habits.


Female IBS patients seem to be more willing to change dietary habits because of their GI problems than men. Effects of these nutritional behaviour changes were reported for almost all participants that had made dietary adjustments. Fatty food, certain vegetables, dairy products and eggs were significantly more reported to cause GI complaints among IBS patients compared with their controls.


Female IBS patients reported more changes in their dietary habits because of GI problems than men with the disease. The majority of both women and men who changed their dietary habits because of GI problems experienced improvement in their symptoms.

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