Observational Study
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2016. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Oct 21, 2016; 22(39): 8806-8811
Published online Oct 21, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i39.8806
Epidemiological study: Correlation between diet habits and constipation among elderly in Beijing region
Xiao-Jiao Yang, Mei Zhang, Hong-Ming Zhu, Zhe Tang, Dan-Dan Zhao, Bang-Yi Li, Amanda Gabriel
Xiao-Jiao Yang, Amanda Gabriel, McGill University, 845 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec H3A 0G4, Canada
Mei Zhang, Hong-Ming Zhu, Zhe Tang, Dan-Dan Zhao, Bang-Yi Li, Department of Gastroenterology, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100053, China
Author contributions: Zhang M designed the research; Yang XJ performed data and statistical analysis, designed survey questions regarding diet habit and wrote the paper; Zhu HM and Tang Z performed the research; Zhao DD, Li BY and Gabriel A performed data collection and input.
Institutional review board statement: The study was reviewed and approved by the Department of Gastroenterology of Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University.
Informed consent statement: All questionnaires were anonymous and verbal consent was obtained from all participants.
Conflict-of-interest statement: There are no conflicts of interest to report.
Data sharing statement: No additional data are available.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Correspondence to: Dr. Mei Zhang, Department of Gastroenterology, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, No. 45 Changchun Street, Xuanwu District, Beijing 100053, China. zhang2955@sina.com
Telephone: +86-10-83198438 Fax: +86-10-83198438
Received: July 27, 2016
Peer-review started: July 28, 2016
First decision: August 15, 2016
Revised: August 19, 2016
Accepted: September 12, 2016
Article in press: September 12, 2016
Published online: October 21, 2016

To investigate correlations between diet and prevalence of constipation among elderly people in Beijing.


A total of 2776 (≥ 60 years) were selected in Beijing region for investigation. Data regarding constipation and diet habits was collected via hierarchical status, segmentation and random cluster sampling. Investigation included constipation-related demographic indicators and diet habits. Door-to-door questionnaires and surveys included daily staple food intakes, frequency of fish, egg, fruits and vegetables consumption. Constipation was defined according to the China Chronic Constipation Diagnosis and Treatment Guideline (2013), with the following constipation judgment indicators: decreased defecation frequency, dry and hard stool, and difficulty in defecation.


The prevalence of constipation among elderly people in Beijing region was 13%. There was a positive correlation between prevalence of constipation and age, but negative correlations between prevalence of constipation and staple food, fish and dietary fibres (fruits and vegetables) intakes. These differences were all statistically significant.


The prevalence of elderly constipation in Beijing region is closely related to diet habits, and is significantly decreased by high staple foods intake, fish eating and high dietary fibres (fruits and vegetables) consumption.

Keywords: Constipation, Elderly, Diet, Epidemiology, Prevalence, Factors

Core tip: Because of high prevalence of constipation among elderly people, older populations are more susceptible to constipation related side effects. Many studies have concluded the significance of certain foods and dietary modification in treating constipation prior to any medical interventions. Benefits of frequent fish, dietary fibres consumption and large staple food intakes in alleviating symptoms of constipation were demonstrated in this study. Dietary modification should be promoted and emphasized as first line treatment to postpone or avoid drug use.