Altered Gut Microbes – Obesity Cause or Effect?

 November 25, 2012 — Two new reviews explore another realm of what we need to study in obesity: changes in the microbes in the intestines of people with obesity. We have many tantalizing clues, but we still don’t know whether these altered bugs are a cause or an effect of obesity.

Research in both animals and humans has demonstrated alterations in the microbes that live in the intestines of subjects with obesity. A high-fat diet has been shown to alter the microbiota in animals, regardless of the presence of obesity. Some evidence suggests that different microbes can cause significant metabolic changes and obesity. But the data on the impact of diet on intestinal microbes suggest just the opposite — that dietary patterns associated with obesity might also alter the microbes in the gut.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of conclusive evidence is no deterrent to the dietary supplement industry. The Internet is brimming with entrepreneurs ready to sell you probiotics with unsubstantiated weight loss claims. Be advised, with these products, the only thing you will lose is your money.

Access the scientific reviews here and here.