Gut bacteria can cause obesity

February 12, 2010 by Astrid Smit

Diet, exercise and genes are not the only factors which determine if someone can become obese. The composition of the intestinal bacteria may also account for a person's obesity. This is the contention of Wageningen microbiologists and colleagues from the University of Amsterdam end January in the scientific journal Diabetologia.

The authors base their viewpoint on tens of experimental studies carried out mostly on laboratory animals. These studies apparently show that the intestines of mice which suffer from obesity contain more bacteria types which efficiently convert indigestible food into manageable . When researchers transplanted the gut flora of obese mice into mice without such gut flora, the fat percentage increased significantly in these so-called germ-free mice. It is suspected that the gut flora (known as gut microbiota) of these obese mice also affects hormones involved in fat storage.

Humans suffering from obesity also have such efficient gut bacteria, the authors surmise. They would therefore derive more energy from food and become fat easier. Various studies also point to this view, although the results are not always conclusive. Professor Willem de Vos, one of the authors of the publication, says: 'The study of gut bacteria in humans is rather complex. Every human being has a unique composition of microbiota, which makes research difficult. We want to use this review article as a first step into a territory which is abandoned by and large. Research into the relationship between microbiota and obesity in humans can only begin afterwards.'

It is therefore unclear as to how far efficient gut bacteria can increase the risk of . Is their influence bigger or smaller than diet, exercise or a person's genetic profile? The Wageningen microbiologists will research into this in a big European study. In another project, they are examining, together with Amsterdam researchers, the extent to which the composition of the of can be influenced in favour of less efficient bacteria. They will introduce the of non-obese people into that of obese people. This experiment is in full swing.

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winthrom
not rated yet Feb 20, 2010
I wonder where we get the microbiota from in the first place. From our parents? From the food we eat?
marjon
not rated yet Feb 20, 2010
The study of gut bacteria in humans is rather complex. Every human being has a unique composition of microbiota, which makes research difficult.

Human nutrition science, climate science and other fields in which it is nearly impossible to create a controlled environment to perform experiments are all susceptible to propaganda and help sell science magazines and get hits on web-sites like this.

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