Weight loss and gallstones: Gallstone formation and weight loss

Gallstone formation and weight loss


. 1993 Jan;1(1):51-6.

doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1993.tb00008.x.

R L Weinsier 
, D O Ullmann



  • 1 Dept. of Nutrition Sciences, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham, AL 35294-3360, USA.
  • PMID:


  • DOI:


Free article


R L Weinsier et al.

Obes Res.

1993 Jan.

Free article

. 1993 Jan;1(1):51-6.

doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1993.tb00008.x.


R L Weinsier 
, D O Ullmann


  • 1 Dept. of Nutrition Sciences, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham, AL 35294-3360, USA.
  • PMID:


  • DOI:



Obesity is associated with increased bile stasis and cholesterol saturation, and an increased risk of gallstone development. Conversely, bile composition is normalized following reduction in body weight. It would appear advantageous to promote weight loss in obesity, which would reduce the predisposition to gallstone formation. Despite the potential health benefits of weight reduction, very-low-calorie diets appear to increase the risk for cholesterol crystal and gallstone formation. The incidence of gallstone formation seems to be dependent on the degree of caloric restriction, the rate of weight loss, and the duration of the dietary intervention. Thus, faster rates of weight loss for longer periods of time are associated with increased risk. Available data obtained from prospective studies of subjects during active weight loss suggest that newly formed gallstones occur within 4 weeks and with incidence rates 15 to 25-fold higher than in the general obese population. The stones produce symptoms in approximately one-third of the subjects, of whom approximately one-half will undergo surgery. Proposed mechanisms underlying gallstone formation during weight reduction include bile stasis due to reduced caloric intake, increased biliary cholesterol saturation secondary to increased cholesterol mobilization, and increased nucleation due to changes in bile arachidonate and glycoprotein concentrations. Data are lacking on the effects of gradual rates of weight loss and risk of gallstone formation.

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Why Weight Loss Increases Gallstone Risk

As for everything in life, weight loss too has its pros and cons.  While the health benefits of weight loss are numerous and powerful, there is an increased risk of gallstone formation, particularly if the weight loss is fast.

Gallstones are very common, being present in 17% of women and 8% of men (most don’t know that they have them!).  Bile, which is the digestive juice made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, is composed of bile acids, which are made by the liver from cholesterol.  Bile also contains cholesterol, phospholipids, proteins and electrolytes.  The bile is usually able to carry cholesterol produced by the liver out into the intestine in a liquid form, but if the cholesterol concentration gets too high, or the contraction of the gallbladder gets too sluggish, cholesterol crystals develop and gallstones form.

Obesity is a risk factor for gallstones for a number of reasons.  There is a larger pool of cholesterol moving around in the body, and the liver’s ability to convert cholesterol into bile acids is impaired (thus, more cholesterol relative to bile acids in the bile).   Gallbladder contractions are also more sluggish in obesity, which may be related to insulin resistance and resistance to a satiety (sense of fullness) hormone called leptin.  Diabetes, prediabetes, use of the birth control pill, and hormone replacement therapy are other risk factors for gallstone disease.  Genetics also play a part in gallstone risk, which is an area that we are just starting to learn about.

Within the first 4 months of moderate weight loss on a diet, the risk of gallstones is as high as 25% (though most of these will be without symptoms).  With faster and larger weight loss, the risk is higher: as many as 71% of patients will have gallstone formation by 1 year after bariatric (obesity) surgery.  About 40% of people developing gallstones after bariatric surgery will have symptoms; for those who don’t have symptoms, about half will disappear by 2 years after surgery.

Gallstones form during weight loss because cholesterol content of bile increases during weight loss, as fats are being moved out of fat tissue and being utilized or disposed of by the body.  If calorie intake is too low, bile acid production by the liver may drop as well.  Also, during rapid weight loss, the gallbladder contractions become more sluggish.

So, what are the take home messages here?  Again, remember that the health benefits of weight loss are great and numerous, and far outweigh the potential risk of gallstone formation.  That being said, losing weight at a reasonable rate (max 1-2 lb per week) helps to prevent the higher risk of gallstones that comes with too rapid a rate of weight loss.  For those who will be losing weight quickly with bariatric surgery, your surgeon may recommend that your gallbladder be removed at the time of surgery if you already have gallstones.  If not, a medication called URSO (ursodeoxycholic acid) may be recommended, which has been shown to reduce the risk of gallstone formation after gastric bypass surgery by 60%.

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Cholecystitis – Healthy Russia

What is the danger of pain in the right upper part of the abdomen that gets worse after eating? Learn about symptoms to watch out for.

Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder . This small pear-shaped organ is located on the lower surface of the liver on the right side of the abdomen. The gallbladder collects and secretes bile, which is involved in the digestion of fats, through a special duct into the duodenum.

If cholecystitis occurs suddenly, it is called sharp . If it develops for a long time – chronic .

What causes cholecystitis?

1. Approximately 95 percent of cases of cholecystitis are caused by gallstones formed by cholesterol, thickened mucus, and calcium and bilirubin compounds. These stones block the duct of the gallbladder – it overflows and becomes inflamed.

Lose weight wisely

Fasting and sudden weight loss lead to stagnation of bile in the ducts and can provoke the formation of insoluble gallstones.

2. Injuries of the gallbladder. Inflammation can cause a blow to the stomach – in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe liver. Cholecystitis can also be a consequence of surgical intervention.

3. Infection. If an infection gets into the bile, it can cause the gallbladder to become inflamed.

4. Tumor. The growth of a malignant or benign tumor can block the duct of the gallbladder. As a result of the accumulation of bile, inflammation develops.

Risk factors for cholecystitis

  • Development of cholelithiasis in close relatives
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Elevated blood lipids
  • Too rapid weight loss due to unbalanced diet
  • Obesity
  • Senior age
  • Pregnancy

Main signs of cholecystitis

  • Pain in the right upper abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Slight temperature increase
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Decreased or absent appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are generally worse after eating especially fatty foods.

In the case of acute cholecystitis, pain in the right upper abdomen occurs suddenly, is very intense and does not go away on its own. It can also increase with deep breathing and give to the right shoulder and back.

Attention! The appearance of one or more of the symptoms listed above requires urgent medical attention.

As a rule, the formation of stones in the gallbladder requires surgical treatment . Without it, serious complications can develop – up to rupture of the gallbladder and peritonitis.

How to reduce the risk of cholecystitis?

Prevention of cholecystitis usually involves reducing the risk of developing gallstones:

1. Follow the diet, trying to stick to the usual time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do not skip meals and switch to fractional meals. It will prevent disruption of the gallbladder.

2. Avoid fatty foods. Frequent consumption of saturated fats leads to disruption of the gallbladder and the development of stones in it.

Have pity on the liver

An unhealthy lifestyle leads not only to the appearance of stones in the bile ducts, but also to the dysfunction of the liver itself. Remember, alcohol, smoking and the liver are not friends!

3. Be physically active – this can reduce the risk of developing gallstones. Practice at least five times a week, for at least 30 minutes every day.

4. Maintain a healthy body weight. The closer your weight is to your ideal body mass index, the lower your risk of developing cholecystitis.

5. If you have extra pounds and want to lose weight – reduce weight at a reasonable pace. Rapid weight loss increases the risk of developing gallstones. Remember that healthy weight loss does not exceed 0.5-1 kg per week .


Most often, cholecystitis is caused by the formation of stones in the gallbladder. To reduce your risk of gallbladder inflammation, eat right, stay physically active, and don’t try to lose weight too quickly.

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Cholecystitis. Causes. Diagnostics. Treatment. | Health Clinic

What is cholecystitis

The most famous and at the same time quite a serious disease that occurs in the abdominal cavity is cholecystitis, under which they comprehend nothing more than an inflammatory process of the gallbladder. Today, the disease covers about 17% of the adult population and does not tend to decrease in these indicators in the future. This is due not only to an increase in the rates of diseases of the endocrine system, such as diabetes mellitus and obesity, but also to a modern, immobile way of life, as well as excessive consumption of foods saturated with animal fats.

This disease affects women more than men, which is associated with tolerated childbirth, pregnancy, as well as the use of oral contraception.

To date, there are several forms of leakage:

  • Acute cholecystitis.
  • Chronic stage of the disease.

Regardless of the form of the course, the disease can be calculous, with the formation of stones, as well as acalculous. Moreover, the first form is considered more common.

Symptoms of cholecystitis

Against the background of ailments of the gallbladder, the symptoms of cholecystitis are quite easily determined, among which the main ones can be distinguished:

  • Nausea.
  • Constant heaviness in the right side.
  • An eructation of bitterness.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • The predominance of yellow in the shade of the face.
  • Pain sensations of a dull nature, radiating to the shoulder blade.
  • Digestive disorders.
  • Rare occurrence of vomiting.
Causes of disease

In fact, it is quite difficult to name the causes of cholecystitis, because inflammatory processes in the gallbladder can occur for various reasons. However, the main ones are still:

  • stone formation;
  • genetic aggravated predisposition;
  • dietary abuse;
  • anomaly of the gallbladder;
  • mental and emotional stress;
  • external viral and parasitic infectious agents;
  • modification of microflora;
  • pregnancy or hormonal imbalance;
  • rapid weight loss;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • food or other allergies;
  • immune disorders;
  • taking drugs that promote the formation of stones.

Diagnosis of cholecystitis

The best and timely option for determining the presence of the disease is an early study, during which it is possible to identify deviations in the chemical composition of bile, which allows you to avoid medicinal and conservative interventions, thanks to strict adherence to medical recommendations and a strict diet.

When symptoms appear, the diagnosis of cholecystitis includes modern and affordable methods for detecting the disease. Our doctors resort to bacteriological studies, examination of the cavity on ultrasound machines, as well as duodenal sounding or laparoscopy. Only by determining the ultra-precise biochemical composition of bile acids in the cavity of the gallbladder can a diagnosis be made with confidence, avoiding the formation of complications in the form of calculosis.

Treatment of cholecystitis

Depending on the severity, stage and form of cholecystitis, our specialists determine the practical impact. If an acute form of the disease is observed, then the treatment is accompanied by a stay in the hospital. Simple forms without complications, which are not accompanied by pain, can do without hospitalization of the patient.

If necessary, the specialist will decide on surgical or conservative treatment. With moderate severity of the disease, therapy is used, trying to exclude surgical intervention, influencing the inflammatory process by the following methods:

  • food restrictions, strict diet;
  • taking medications;
    ECLT or stone destruction by extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.

If drug therapy has not brought results, or the bladder does not function, acute or systematic exacerbations, a crisis form, biliary colic are observed, then the doctors are left with the surgical treatment of cholecystitis. Performing cholecystectomy, surgeons remove the affected bladder, eliminating the disease completely.

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