C. diff risk may be increased by obesity

Obesity may be a risk factor for Clostridium difficile infection, according to a study recently published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center found that cases of CDI with community onset infection were four times more likely to be obese compared to individuals with prior known exposure to a healthcare facility.

"We hypothesized that in a group without healthcare exposure, the significance of other risk factors would be increased," Nahid Bhadelia, the study's corresponding author, said. "In particular, we were interested in inflammatory bowel disease which has previously been associated with higher risk of acquiring this infection and obesity, which has never been examined."

The researchers found that obese patients were also five times more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease.

"We were also surprised to note that our patients who were presenting from the community were almost twice as likely to be obese as the general population in Massachusetts (34 percent compared to 23 percent)," Bhadelia said. "Hence, like IBD, obesity may be associated with higher risk of CDI."

CDI is a bacterial gut infection that costs the healthcare system between $496 million and $1 billion annually. In the past decade, the number of hospital discharge diagnoses of CDI doubled from approximately 139,000 to 336,600. CDIs are the leading cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients.