When the small sacs, or diverticula, become infected or inflamed, that’s diverticulitis, sometimes compounded by abscesses, perforations, fistulas, and a narrowing of the colon. Diverticulitis can cause episodes of abdominal pain, or attacks, that are not pleasant.
The risk factors for diverticulitis -- including obesity, sedentary lifestyle and low-fiber diets -- are not surprising, given their connection to many other ailments. Research presented at an American Academy of Physician Assistants convention in June 2011 focused on obesity, finding a connection between diverticulitis and body mass index (BMI). In reviewing cases of 71 patients at a gastroenterology practice in New York, researchers found that fewer than one-quarter of the patients with diverticulitis had a healthy BMI. In fact, 39 percent were overweight and almost 37 percent were obese.