Bacteria in the gut may trigger obesity—study

Some of the common causes for obesity are family history, heredity, nutrition and exercise. Now, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center claim that the risk of obesity may be linked to a bacteria found in one’s gut.

Experts theorize that methane from methane-producing bacteria in the gut may hinder digestion and increase the uptake of calories thereby triggering obesity.

Co-author of the study, Dr Ruchi Mathur, a physician in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism stated, “Obesity is a major health issue and is reaching pandemic levels.

“It is our hope that by better understanding all the factors that contribute to obesity, we can develop more effective ways of fighting it.”

Study details
In an effort to understand the association between the presence of methane producing bacteria and excess weight, the researchers enrolled 58 patients aged 18 to 65 years with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 30 and 60.

All the participants were given a breath test to measure methane gas.

Findings of the study
The investigators noted that nearly 20 percent of the subjects tested positive for methane.

A positive methane test establishes that a person has certain bacteria in the gut that produce this gas.

The persons who tested positive for methane in the breath test exhibited a BMI of up to 7 points higher as opposed to those who did not show the presence of methane on their breath.

Dr Adrienne Youdim, director of medical weight loss at the Cedars-Sinai Center for Weight Loss stated, “Our strategies for treating this complex medical problem are limited.

“This finding is a helpful step in better understanding the growing problem of obesity and potentially providing more effective medical treatments.”

The research was jointly conducted by the Center for Weight Loss and the GI Motility Program, and the findings were presented Wednesday at the Digestive Disease Week annual meeting in New Orleans.

A little about obesity
Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents serious health complications.

The measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI). It is calculated by dividing the weight of a person by his or her height.

A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight.

Obesity is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, sleep apnea, cancer and other medical problems.

Though obesity was considered a major problem faced by the rich and developed countries earlier, it is now on the rise in developing countries.

by Neharika Sabharwal

Provided by ArmMed Media