Our current understanding of normal bowel patterns in the United States is limited.
Available studies have included individuals with both normal and abnormal bowel patterns, making it difficult to characterize normal bowel patterns in the United States.
Dr Anthony Lembo and colleagues from Boston, Massachusetts, USA examined the frequency and consistency in individuals with self-reported normal bowel habits, and determined demographic factors associated with self-reported normalcy.
The team evaluated data from adult participants who completed bowel health questions as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2009–2010 and who reported normal bowel patterns.
|96% of the sample reported between 3 and 21 bowel movements per week|
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
Data regarding self-perceived bowel health; stool frequency; stool consistency and demographic factors were analyzed.
The team found that 96% of the sample reported between 3 and 21 bowel movements per week.
The team found among men, 90% reported a Bristol Stool Form Scale between 3 and 5, while for women it was 2–6.
After controlling for age, the following demographic variables were associated with normalcy: male sex, higher education, higher income, less than 2 daily medications, and high daily fiber intake.
The researchers found Hispanic ethnicity was significantly associated with abnormal self-reported bowel habits.
Dr Lembo's team concluded: "This is the first study to evaluate normal bowel frequency and consistency in a representative sample of adults in the United States."
"The current findings bolster the common “3 and 3” metric of normal frequency while also suggesting different criteria for normal consistency for men and women."
"Finally, this study provides novel information about demographic factors associated with normal frequency and consistency."