The low-FODMAP diet has emerged as an option for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This diet is very restrictive, and compliance is usually low. Preliminary findings suggest an association between eating disorders (EDs) and the risk of developing IBS. The aim of this study was to assess the correlation between compliance with a low-FODMAP diet and the risk of ED behaviours among patients with IBS.
Patients and methods
A single-centre prospective study was carried out among 233 IBS patients (79.8% females) at University College London Hospital, who commenced a low FODMAPs group programme for IBS (Rome III or IV). Self-reported diet adherence at the end of the 6-week programme was measured. At baseline, and at the 6-week follow-up visit, participants completed the validated IBS-Symptom Severity Score, the SCOFF ED screening questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Adherence with a low-FODMAP diet was found in 95 (41%) patients. Overall, 54 (23%) patients were classified to be at risk for ED behaviour. Adherence was 57% in the ED group (31/54) versus 35% in the non-ED group (64/179); P<0.05. Adherence with a low-FODMAP diet was highest (51%) in the IBS with diarrhoea subtype and lowest (10%) in IBS with constipation. There was no significant correlation between IBS-Symptom Severity Score and either adherence (P=0.39) or ED behaviour (P=0.28).
In this IBS cohort, greater adherence to a low-FODMAP diet is associated with ED behaviour. The implications of our study are important in clinical practice for a clinician to have a high index of suspicion of EDs in IBS patients when a high level of low-FODMAP diet achieved.