Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Specific Gut Bacteria May Account For Much Obesity 470

resistant writes "A limited study from China offers the tantalizing possibility that targeting specific gut bacteria in humans could significantly reduce the scope of an epidemic of obesity in Western countries: 'The endotoxin-producing Enterobacter decreased in relative abundance from 35% of the volunteer's gut bacteria to non-detectable, during which time the volunteer lost 51.4kg of 174.8kg initial weight and recovered from hyperglycemia and hypertension after 23 weeks on a diet of whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods and prebiotics.' As usual, sensationalist reports have been exaggerating the import of this very early investigation, and one wonders about that 'diet of whole grains.' Still, there could be meat in the idea of addressing pathogenic bacteria for the control of excessive weight gain. After all, it wasn't too long ago that a brave scientist insisted in the face of widespread ridicule that peptic ulcers in humans usually are caused by bacterial infections, not by acidic foods."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Specific Gut Bacteria May Account For Much Obesity

Comments Filter:
  • Mass-Media Report (Score:5, Informative)

    by resistant ( 221968 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @05:37PM (#42371529) Homepage Journal
    In retrospect, I guess it couldn't hurt to mention at least one mass-media report [] that doesn't seem too excitable:

    Researchers in Shanghai identified a human bacteria linked with obesity, fed it to mice and compared their weight gain with rodents without the bacteria. The latter did not become obese despite being fed a high-fat diet and being prevented from exercising. The Shanghai team fed a morbidly obese man a special diet designed to inhibit the bacterium linked to obesity and found that he lost 29 per cent of his body weight in 23 weeks. The patient was prevented from doing any exercise during the trial. Prof Zhao said such a loss in an obese patient using this diet was unprecedented. The patient also recovered from diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.

    It will be fascinating to see what happens when other teams try to replicate these results with larger, more statistically significant groups than just one individual. ^^;

  • Re:Mass-Media Report (Score:5, Informative)

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @05:54PM (#42371599) Homepage Journal

    This has actually been studied quite extensively in the last few years, mostly by American researchers. They've been able to show how that mice fed samples of this bacterium will gain weight drastically. Basically, the bacteria process certain sources of food that we're bad at absorbing and make it easier for us to absorb them. It's believed that there's an immunological mutation (which is otherwise all but harmless) that lets them proliferate excessively in humans (defence against flagella, I think), so one can actually say that obesity is genetic, albeit indirectly so.

    But that all being said, while careful diet control is certainly effective for mitigating digestion-related problems, this study isn't a cure so much as a band-aid. I'm pretty sure anyone would lose weight and eliminate unwanted intestinal flora under the intake suggested.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @06:14PM (#42371731)

    Many things which travel through the gut don't cause a problem because the Cilia protect the digestive tract wall. When Cilia get damaged as with Crohn's Disease, then infection or inflamation can occur.

    If the Enterobacter growth is enhanced by some items in the diet and suppressed by others that would not be surprising. If the Enterobacter or a product from that bacteria causes inflamation that causes the Pancreas to screw up the insulin production and regulation, that too would not be surprising.

    It is only recently that investigation has begun to accelerate on what the effects of different bacteria in the gut are doing and why. Great article with potential for good results.

  • Re:Calories? (Score:3, Informative)

    by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @06:16PM (#42371757) Homepage Journal

    Is it too outlandish to consider that perhaps having a certain bacteria could cause you to metabolize foods differently, resulting in weight gain regardless of diet and exercise?

    Really -- it's not that outlandish an idea. Of course a good diet and exercise are splendid -- but the fact is there are millions of people who do diet and exercise see very poor results compared to others.

  • Re:Mass-Media Report (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @06:18PM (#42371761) Homepage

    The human body contains trillions of microorganisms — outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body's mass (in a 200-pound adult, that’s 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria), but play a vital role in human health.

    The NIH [] is just starting to go there. It may well flip our understanding of how a number of disease processes unfold.

    Researchers found, for example, that nearly everyone routinely carries pathogens, microorganisms known to cause illnesses. In healthy individuals, however, pathogens cause no disease; they simply coexist with their host and the rest of the human microbiome, the collection of all microorganisms living in the human body. Researchers must now figure out why some pathogens turn deadly and under what conditions, likely revising current concepts of how microorganisms cause disease.

    Clearly the microbiota are biologically active - they produce, metabolize and secrete chemicals that interact with the human body. Not surprising that understanding that may help us understand the function and non function of ourselves.

    In a sense, this isn't news. We've always known than humans are full of shit.

  • Re:Mass-Media Report (Score:4, Informative)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @06:32PM (#42371845) Homepage Journal

    I read a few articles showing benefits of intestinal flora transplants from one individual to another. For example, this article discusses how it was shown to ease Parkinson's in certain cases (just the abstract, sorry): []

  • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @08:20PM (#42372325) Homepage

    greatly increased my intake of meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, etc. Any time I get hungry, I eat one of those and I feel full immediately.

    I was about to post that I can just keep eating those, but on reflection you're right. Those food types do make me feel full up.

    Proteins take longer to digest so that's why you feel "full" longer. And it doesn't take a lot either.

APL hackers do it in the quad.