Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Nutrition and lifestyle in relation to bowel movement frequency: a cross-sectional study of 20 630 men and women in EPIC–Oxford

  • Miguel A Sanjoaquin (a1), Paul N Appleby (a1), Elizabeth A Spencer (a1) and Timothy J Key (a1)

Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the relationships between nutritional and lifestyle factors and bowel movement frequency.

Design:

Cross-sectional analysis using data from a prospective study. Mean numbers of bowel movements were calculated in relation to a range of factors. In addition, individuals were categorised according to frequency of bowel movements: fewer than 7 per week (‘less than daily’) versus 7 or more per week (‘daily’), and odds ratios were calculated from logistic regression models. Results for each factor were adjusted for the other factors under consideration.

Setting:

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, Oxford cohort (EPIC–Oxford), UK.

Participants:

In total, 20,630 men and women aged 22–97 years at recruitment. Thirty per cent of the subjects were vegetarians or vegans.

Results:

Women had fewer bowel movements on average than men, and were less likely to have daily bowel movements. Mean bowel movement frequency was higher in vegetarians (10.5 in men, 9.1 in women) and especially in vegans (11.6 in men, 10.5 in women) compared with participants who ate meat (9.5 in men, 8.2 in women). There were also significant positive associations between bowel movement frequency and body mass index (BMI), intakes of dietary fibre and non-alcoholic fluids, for both men and women. Vigorous exercise was positively associated with bowel movement frequency in women although results for men were less clear. Alcohol intake was positively associated with bowel movement frequency in men but not in women.

Conclusion:

Being vegetarian and especially vegan is strongly associated with a higher frequency of bowel movements. Moreover, having a high intake of dietary fibre and fluids and a high BMI are associated with an increase in frequency of bowel movements.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Nutrition and lifestyle in relation to bowel movement frequency: a cross-sectional study of 20 630 men and women in EPIC–Oxford
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Nutrition and lifestyle in relation to bowel movement frequency: a cross-sectional study of 20 630 men and women in EPIC–Oxford
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Nutrition and lifestyle in relation to bowel movement frequency: a cross-sectional study of 20 630 men and women in EPIC–Oxford
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email Miguel.SanJoaquin@cancer.org.uk

References

Hide All
1Hammond, EC. Some preliminary findings on physical complaints from a prospective study of 1,064,004 men and women. American Journal of Public Health 1964; 54: 1123.
2Everhart, JE, Go, VLW, Johannes, S, Fitzsimmons, SC, Roth, HP, White, LR. A longitudinal survey of self-reported bowel habits in the United States. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 1989; 34: 1153–62.
3Sonnenberg, A, Muller, AD. Constipation and cathartics as risk factors of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis. Pharmacology 1993; 47(Suppl. 1): 224–33.
4Jacobs, EJ, White, E. Constipation, laxatives use, and colon cancer among middle-aged adults. Epidemiology 1998; 9(4): 385–91.
5Thompson, WG, Longstreth, GF, Drossman, DA, Heaton, KW, Irvine, EJ, Müller-Lissner, SA. Functional bowel disorders and functional abdominal pain. Gut 1999; 45(Suppl. 2): 1143–7.
6Riboli, E. Nutrition and cancer: background rationale of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Annals of Oncology 1992; 3: 783–91.
7Riboli, E, Hunt, KJ, Slimani, N, Ferrari, P, Norat, T, Fahey, M, et al. European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC): study populations and data collection. Public Health Nutrition 2002; 5(6B): 1113–24.
8Davey, GK, Spencer, EA, Appleby, PN, Allen, NE, Knox, KH, Key, TJ. EPIC–Oxford: lifestyle characteristics and nutrient intakes in a cohort of 33 883 meat-eaters and 31 546 non meat-eaters in the UK. Public Health Nutrition 2003; 6(3): 259–68.
9Englyst, HN, Quigley, ME, Hudson, GJ, Cummings, JH. Determination of dietary fibre as non-starch-polysaccharides by gas liquid chromatography. Analyst 1992; 117: 1707–14.
10Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food. Food Portion Sizes, 2nd ed. London: HMSO, 1993.
11Holland, B, Welch, AA, Unwin, ID, Buss, DH, Paul, AA, Southgate, DAT. McCance & Widdowson's The Composition of Foods, 5th ed. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 1991.
12StatCorp. Stata Statistical Software: Release 7.0. College Station, TX: Stata Corporation, 2001.
13Bingham, SA, Vorster, H, Jerling, JC, Magee, E, Mulligan, A, Runswick, SA, et al. Effect of black tea drinking on blood lipids, blood pressure and aspects of bowel habits. British Journal of Nutrition 1997; 78: 4155.
14Harari, D, Gurwitz, JH, Avorn, J, Bohn, R, Minaker, KL. Bowel habit in relation to age and gender. Archives of Internal Medicine 1996; 156: 315–20.
15Longstreth, GF. Bowel patterns and anxiety: demographic factors. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 1993; 17: 128–32.
16Levy, N, Stermer, E, Steiner, Z, Epstein, L, Tamir, A. Bowel habits in Israel: a cohort study. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology 1993; 16: 295–9.
17Sonneberg, A, Koch, TR. Epidemiology of constipation in the United States. Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 1989; 32: 18.
18Metcalf, AM, Phillips, SF, Zinsmeister, AR, MacCarty, RL, Beart, RW, Wolff, BG. Simplified assessment of colonic segmental colonic transit. Gastroenterology 1987; 92: 40–7.
19Wald, A, Van Thiel, DH, Hoechstetter, L, Gavaler, JS, Egler, KM, Verm, R, et al. Gastrointestinal transit: the effect of the menstrual cycle. Gastroenterology 1981; 80: 1497–500.
20Davies, GJ, Crowder, M, Dickerson, JW. Dietary fibre intake of individuals with different eating patterns. Human Nutrition. Applied Nutrition 1985; 39(2): 139–48.
21Davies, GJ, Crowder, M, Reid, B, Dickerson, JW. Bowel function measurements of individuals with different eating patterns. Gut 1986; 27: 164–9.
22Cummings, JH, Hill, MJ, Jenkins, DJA, Pearson, JR, Wigginns, HS. Changes in fecal composition and colonic function due to cereal fiber. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1976; 29: 1468–73.
23Oettle, GJ. Effect of moderate exercise on bowel habit. Gut 1991; 32: 941–4.
24Bingham, SA, Cummings, JH. Effect of exercise and physical fitness on large intestinal function. Gastroenterology 1989; 97: 1389–99.
25Anti, M, Pignataro, G, Armuzzi, A, Valenti, A, Iascone, E, Marmo, R, et al. Water supplementation enhances the effect of high-fiber diet on stool frequency and laxative consumption in adult patients with functional constipation. Hepatogastroenterology 1998; 45: 727–32.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed