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Background and Aims: The prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is consistently lower in the Chinese than in white populations. Population-based data tracking the time trend of GERD prevalence in Chinese subjects is conflicting. This study examines the population prevalence, risk factors, and time trend associated with GERD in a Chinese population.

Methods: A population-based cross-sectional study utilizing a validated GERD questionnaire administered by a telephone survey was performed on 3360 Chinese subjects from Hong Kong. GERD prevalence rates in 2011 were compared with prevalence rates in 2002 and 2006. Multiple logistic regressions were performed to determine the risk factors associated with weekly GERD.

Results: A total of 2074 subjects (mean age, 48.1 /-18.2 y; range 18 to 94; 63.1% female) completed the survey (response rate 61.7%). The prevalence of GERD as defined by the Montreal definition was 3.8%. The prevalence of weekly GERD had increased by 1.3% between 2002 and 2011, which represents an at least 50% relative increase (P<0.0005). A diagnosis of weekly GERD was associated with noncardiac chest pain [odds ratio (OR), 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.034-2.9; P=0.037], dyspepsia (OR, 5.1; 95% CI, 3.0-8.8; P<0.005), and an acid feeling in the stomach (OR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.8-5.1).

Conclusions: GERD rates in the ethnic Chinese have risen over the last decade. Despite this, variables associated with a survey diagnosis of GERD remain ostensibly unchanged. GERD research in East Asia should focus on the factors driving the rapid rise in prevalence rates and the association with more atypical symptoms of GERD.

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