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Body Weight & Gut Microbes

We know genetics has some kind of a role in weight, but how does that work? It seems our genetic makeup can influence whether we are overweight or slim, by shaping which types of microbes thrive in our body, according to a study. Scientists identified a specific, little known bacterial family that is highly heritable and more commonly found in slim individuals.  Microbes are tiny organisms that live primarily in the intestines. The average person has about 2 to 3 pounds of microbes in their body. Recent research has shown more evidence of microbes being related to weight.

This study highlights the growing evidence that obesity is not simply a product of environmental factors–such as our access to an abundance of fatty foods, but that there is a strong genetic component at work.  The findings could lead to the creation of personalized probiotic therapies that are optimized to reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases based on an individual’s genetic make-up. The results could also help scientists find new predictors of disease and assist in prevention. “This study illustrates again that obesity is a multi-factorial disease, that not only is affected by environmental and cultural factors, but also genetics and even intestinal microbial flora can significantly have an effect,” said Dr. Jaime Ponce, expert weight loss surgeon in Chattanooga, TN.

Previous studies have linked both genetic variation and the composition of gut microbes to metabolic disease and obesity. One study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center analyzed the gut microbes of women between 40 and 45 years of age and found a positive correlation between the population of one specific type of bacteria, called Bacteroidetes, and body fat percentage in the participants. Another study published this year found that people with type 2 diabetes or obesity have changes in the composition of their gut microbiota that healthy people do not have.

You can read more about obesity and gut microbes here.

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