Your gut bacteria may predict your obesity risk

August 28, 2013 by Randy Dotinga, Healthday Reporter
Your gut bacteria may predict your obesity risk
Studies also found that high-fiber, low-fat diet can change bacteria makeup for the better.

(HealthDay)—Bacteria in people's digestive systems—gut germs—seem to affect whether they become overweight or obese, and new research sheds more light on why that might be.

The findings, from an international team of , also suggest that a diet heavy in fiber could change the makeup of these germs, possibly making it easier for people to shed pounds.

"We know affect health and , but we don't know exactly how," said Dusko Ehrlich, a co-author of the two new studies and coordinator of the International Human Microbiome Standards project.

The research finds that "people who put on the most weight lack certain or have them at very low levels. This opens ways to develop bacterial therapies to fight weight gain," he said.

Experts believe the gut, where the food, is crucial to and weight loss.

"It is now well known that bacteria in our gut play an important role in our health and well-being, possibly as important as our own and ," said Jeffrey Cirillo, a professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center's department of microbial pathogenesis and immunology. "This means that disruption of the bacteria in our gut by use of antibiotics or eating foods that help only particular bacteria grow can have effects upon our entire bodies."

A study released last March in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggested that gastric bypass surgery led to weight loss—in mice—because it changed the makeup of the bacteria in their intestines.

In one of the new studies, which are both published in the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Nature, researchers analyzed the gut bacteria of 169 obese Danish people and 123 Danish people who were not obese.

The gut germs in the obese people were less diverse than in the others, and had more abnormalities in terms of metabolism. Also, obese people with a less diverse supply of germs gained more weight.

It's not clear how the bacteria and obesity are related. But the research suggests that the metabolisms of the themselves are connected to the overall metabolism in the humans where they live, Cirillo said.

The finding could also have a practical application, the researchers said.

"The study lays ground for a simple test, which should tell people what their risk for developing obesity-linked diseases is," study co-author Ehrlich said. If they are, he said, diet changes may be necessary.

In a second study, researchers monitored gut bacteria as 49 overweight and obese people tried to lose weight with diets that were low-fat and low-calorie but high in protein plus fiber-rich foods like vegetables and fruits. The diet appeared to actually change the bacterial in the guts of the participants.

"Although these are relatively early and small studies on the topic, they suggest that management of our own diets can improve the richness of the flora within our guts and decrease our chances of becoming obese," said Cirillo. "This does not mean that changes in diet will be effective for all people or that they can prevent obesity no matter how much someone eats, but that they can help the situation."

Explore further: Intestinal flora determines health of obese people

More information: For more on obesity, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Related Stories

Intestinal flora determines health of obese people

August 28, 2013
The international consortium MetaHIT, which includes the research group of Jeroen Raes (VIB / Vrije Universiteit Brussel), publishes in the leading journal Nature that there is a link between richness of bacterial species ...

One in four has alarmingly few intestinal bacteria

August 28, 2013
All people have trillions of bacteria living in their intestines. If you place them on a scale, they weigh around 1.5 kg. Previously, a major part of these 'blind passengers' were unknown, as they are difficult or impossible ...

Study finds link between liver cancer and gut bacteria in obese mice

June 27, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A team of cancer specialists from several Japanese research facilities has found that an acid produced by a type of gut bacteria appears to be involved in causing an increase in the rates of liver cancer ...

Gut bugs might influence child's odds for obesity

May 10, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Levels of certain gut bacteria and low protein intake may raise children's risk of being obese, new research suggests.

Research shows gut microbe populations stable over years, probably decades

July 5, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The importance of the bacteria that live within our digestive tracts is just beginning to be fully realized, and while it has long been known that they assist in digestion and absorption of nutrients, little ...

Recommended for you

Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds

January 16, 2018
Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that "hunger hormone" levels rise and "satiety (or fullness) hormone" levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress ...

Bariatric surgery prolongs lifespan in obese

January 16, 2018
Obese, middle-age men and women who had bariatric surgery have half the death rate of those who had traditional medical treatment over a 10-year period, reports a study that answers questions about the long-term risk of the ...

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.