Bugs and Guts and ObesityWeek

ObesityWeek offers a perfect opportunity to chase down hot topics. And one of the hottest in obesity over the past decade has been the link (look out!) between our bugs and guts and obesity. In a session chaired by Obesity Society President Penny Gordon-Larsen, top researchers on the microbiome will give us a thoughtful update on this trendy topic

Back in 2005, Jeffrey Gordon and colleagues set off a scientific scramble. They found an association between gut microbiota and obesity in mice. A series of tantalizing, small studies followed and generated a flood of sensational headlines: “Gut bacteria make us fat and thin.” “Microbes: the hidden reason behind the obesity epidemic?

In a recent mBio publication, Marc Size and Patrick Schloss assessed the strength of available data and found:

Although there was support for a relationship between the microbial communities found in human feces and obesity status, this association was relatively weak and its detection is confounded by large interpersonal variation and insufficient sample sizes.

How much do the bugs in our gut drive population-level human obesity and health? Science is catching up with the hype, so we can expect a sober assessment of that question from Tom Sharpton, Anthony Fodor, and Christian Jobin at ObesityWeek on Thursday at 3:45.

The journey from associations to causality is full of surprises.

Click here for more on the subject from Stat and here for the analysis by Size and Schloss. For more about the session chaired by Gordon-Larsen, click here. Click herehere, and here for info on more sessions that address the human microbiome at ObesityWeek.

Bacteria, image © Caroline Davis2010 / flickr

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October 29, 2016