New study links food habits to common illness

Thursday, 29 August 2002

A PUZZLING illness that affects the digestive systems of thousands of Australians is now being studied by researchers at the University of Adelaide.

The condition, called functional dyspepsia, is believed to be suffered by at least one in every 50 Australians. While about a quarter of the population sufferers some form of digestive symptoms, up to 10% of those are believed to suffer from functional dyspepsia.

Symptoms include nausea, bloating, feeling full, and in some cases, vomiting ¾ and the symptoms are frequently related to food ingestion. The ongoing discomfort caused to sufferers can be extremely disruptive to their lives. It can also be frustrating, as the cause of the problem is relatively unknown, despite many sufferers having undergone tests from their GPs and specialists.

The University of Adelaide's Department of Medicine is now seeking sufferers of the condition to take part in a major study that compares the relationship between eating habits and their condition. The first of its kind in Australia, the study aims to shed some light on the potential causes of the illness, and provide insights into how it might be treated.

The principal researcher of the study is Dr Christine Feinle, assisted by research officer Dr Rosalie Vozzo. Both are from the University's Department of Medicine, based at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

"We're looking for people from metropolitan Adelaide aged anywhere between 18 to 70 years for the study," says Dr Feinle.

"We're especially keen to recruit people who have already undergone tests for their condition within the last 18 months, but those tests have been inconclusive."

Dr Feinle says many sufferers of functional dyspepsia put up with their condition without seeking ongoing medical help.

"This is our chance to encourage sufferers to do something for themselves, and also for other sufferers like them."

Participants in the study will need to keep a diary of what they eat, how much, and provide other information such as how the food is prepared. They will also use the diary to keep track of their symptoms over the same period of time, enabling researchers to look at any potential correlations.

"We hope our study will be able to identify, or at the least discount, some of the potential relationships between eating habits and this very uncomfortable condition," Dr Feinle says.

"One of the areas we will be most keen to look at is the amount of fat in a person's diet and its correlation with their symptoms."

For more information or to take part in the study, participants should call Dr Rosalie Vozzo on 8222 5073.

NOTE: participants should not have any other significant illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.


Contact Details

Dr Christine Feinle
The University of Adelaide
Department of Medicine
Business: +61 8 8222 5247