A study looking at obesity in people with Barrett's oesophagus

Cancer type:

Oesophageal cancer





This study looked at any link between being very overweight and developing a pre cancerous condition of the food pipe called Barrett’s oesophagus. 

More about this trial

The numbers of people becoming obese, and the numbers of people developing Barrett’s oesophagus are rising at a similar rate. So there may be a possible link between the 2 conditions.

Obesity is when a measurement called your body mass index (BMI) Open a glossary item is greater than 30. Barrett's oesophagus is a condition where cells lining the food pipe (oesophagus) become abnormal. People with Barrett's oesophagus have a small increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

If researchers find a link between obesity and Barrett’s, they may be able to develop ways of reducing cancer risk in this group of people. 

The aim of this study was to see how many people with Barrett’s oesophagus are

  • normal weight
  • overweight
  • obese
  • normal weight but have a higher amount of body fat than usual

Summary of results

The study team found that although some people with Barrett’s oesophagus were normal weight, more people who were overweight had the condition. And this was highest in the people whose fat was mainly around their waist (abdominal obesity). 

The study team asked people who were due to have an endoscopy to take part in the study. 

When people agreed to take part the team: 

  • asked them a few questions about their health
  • recorded their body weight, height, waist and hip measurements
  • did a test to measure how much of the body is made up of fat
  • took a sample of blood

Depending on the results of the endoscopy people were put into 1 of 2 groups.

  • 250 people with Barrett’s oesophagus
  • 224 who did not have Barrett’s oesophagus (the control group)

Diagram for trial results

The study team then looked at a number of different factors including:

  • how many people were overweight or obese Open a glossary item
  • where people’s fat was in their body
  • people’s insulin Open a glossary item levels

They found that:

  • 99 people (39.6%) with Barrett’s oesophagus were overweight
  • 70 people (31.3%) in the control group were overweight
  • 80 people (32%) with Barrett’s oesophagus were obese
  • 51 people (22.8%) in the control group were obese
  • 189 people (75.6%) with Barrett’s oesophagus had most of their fat around their waist (abdominal obesity)
  • 115 people (51.3%) in the control group had abdominal obesity

The study team looked at people’s insulin levels and other factors that are linked with metabolic syndrome. This is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. They found that people with higher insulin levels and metabolic syndrome were more likely to have Barrett’s oesophagus.

The team concluded that abdominal obesity is a high risk factor for developing Barrett’s oesophagus. This adds to the importance of health promotion programmes which help people to lose weight and manage their diet. 

They would like to see more work done on the link between insulin levels and metabolic syndrome and Barrett’s oesophagus. This would help us understand more about how these conditions are linked. 

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Matthew Banks

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University College London (UCL)
University College London Hospital Charity
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Cara took part in a clinical trial

A picture of Cara

"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”

Last reviewed:

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