How Microbes Make Us Fat

Obesity is now classified as a disease in the United States.

Who will benefit from this semantic change remains to be seen: more diagnosis, more coverage for nutrition counseling and thinner bodies, hopefully. A likelier scenario, albeit a cynical one, may be this: more bariatric surgery and more diet drugs entering the pipeline with full coverage by insurance companies and government.

Probiotics are deeply involved in this disease and should demand attention too.

What we know: Lean and obese people harbor different types of microbes. The microflora of obese people  include fewer Bacteroidetes and more Firmicutes than lean people. When they lose weight, microbes change too.
review article from in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings explores the role of gut microflora in obesity.


How do gut microbiota contribute to obesity?
At least three ways: more energy taken from food, more fat cells are made, and the triggering of inflammation.

One recent study reinforced this line of thinking. Inflammation was reduced in rats fed a strain of Lactobacillus gasseri for 24 weeks. The strain significantly prevented body weight gain, fat accumulation and pro-inflammatory gene expression in the adipose tissue.

Changing gut microflora may be a new approach to treating obesity. But don’t hold your breath on reimbursement or subsidies for your yogurt.

That would be too sensible.