Constipation in Taiwan elementary school students: A nationwide survey

Tzee Chung Wu*, Liang Kung Chen, Wen Han Pan, Ren Bin Tang, Shinn Jang Hwang, Lite Wu, Frank Eugene James, Po Hon Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: To evaluate the prevalence and associated factors of childhood constipation in Taiwan. Methods: Healthy children between 7 and 12 years of age were interviewed to determine the prevalence of constipation and associated demographic and dietary factors. A nationwide sample of 2,375 children was selected with complex multistaged sampling throughout Taiwan. Results: In total, 2,375 individuals (1,282 boys and 1,093 girls, mean age=9.3±2.2 years) were interviewed, with a response rate of 95.1%. The prevalence of constipation was 32.2%, and girls were more likely to have constipation than boys (36.1% vs. 29.2%, p=0.0012) in this study. The prevalence of constipation was inversely related to age (24.4% for children aged 11 and 12, 34.0% for children aged 9 and 10, and 39.6% for children aged 7 and 8, p<0.001). Constipated children were more likely to report irregular bowl movements (37.2% vs. 29.3%, p=0.003), and constipated children had a significantly lower body mass index (17.5kg/m2 vs. 18.3kg/m2, p<0.001). The dietary intake for children with constipation was associated with lower intake of vegetables (4.2 servings/week vs. 5.8 servings/week, p<0.05), fruits (5.6 servings/week vs. 7.0 servings/week, p<0.05), soybean products (2.2 servings/week vs. 2.9 serving/week, p<0.05), and eggs (3.9 servings/week vs. 4.6 servings/week, p<0.05). Conclusion: Constipation is common in Taiwanese school-aged children, especially in girls. Less frequent consumption of vegetables, fruits, soybean products, and eggs is associated with childhood constipation. Establishing a regular bowel habit is encouraged to decrease the risk of constipation, and allowing the children a relaxed and sufficient time to defecate after school is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-61
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Chinese Medical Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Children
  • Constipation
  • Nutritional survey
  • Prevalence


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