News / Science & Technology

    Gut Bacteria Might Contribute to Obesity

    Microbes May Contribute to Obesityi
    X
    September 06, 2013 7:55 PM
    New scientific evidence suggests what or how much we eat isn’t the only factor affecting our weight. The microbes living in our intestines matter, too.

    The results of this new study raise the possibility that probiotic bacteria may someday be added to diet and exercise to help fight obesity.

    In the study, cited in Science, researchers started with mice raised in sterile environments with no bacteria in their guts and gave them gut microbe samples taken from human twins, both identical and fraternal. The twins’ genes were similar, but one of each pair was obese, the other was not.

    Mice that received gut bacteria from the obese twin gained more weight than those inoculated with the thin twin microbes, and their metabolisms showed signs of trouble like those seen in obese humans.

    “That was a surprise,” said Ronald Evans, a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute.

    Evans was not involved in this research, but wrote a commentary on two related studies published last week in Nature.

    The studies showed people with less diverse collections of microbes in their guts are more likely to gain weight, and show the beginning signs of diabetes, than those with more microbial diversity.

    “The question [those studies] left on the table is, is the microbiome following the changes in our bodies,” he said, “or is it causing the changes in our bodies?”

    He says the latest study takes an important step toward saying the microbes cause the changes.

    But things really got interesting when the researchers put the obese-microbe mice and the lean-microbe mice in the same cage.

    “Co-housing resulted in the invasion of the lean microbes into the obese cage mate’s gut community, but not vice versa,” said Washington University scientist Jeffrey Gordon, who coordinated the research.

    When those lean microbes invaded and took over the guts of the obese-microbe mice, those mice gained less weight than mice that didn’t have a cage mate carrying lean microbes.

    But it didn’t happen the other way around: having a fat cage mate didn’t make the lean-microbe mice fat.

    But before anyone goes out to find a skinny roommate to help lose weight, consider that the mice swapped microbes through the unsavory habit of eating each other’s droppings.

    “The question is, can we do this in people,” said Evans, the Salk Institute researcher, “and can we actually get to the point where we have a culture that would be what you might call a good bacteria, or probiotic pill?”

    Gordon and his colleagues have cultured some of the microbes from the lean mice, but the cultures were less effective.

    And for now, at least, it’s not possible to take a magic probiotic pill and eat all the hamburgers you want. Mice that ate a high-fat, low-vegetable diet gained weight regardless of what microbes they carried, though lean-microbe mice gained less weight. And this time the lean microbes didn’t take over the guts of obese-microbe mice.

    “The answer appears to be diet, diet, diet,” Gordon said.

    Better diets improved the diversity of microbes in overweight people’s guts in the two studies in Nature on which Evans commented, and reduced the metabolic symptoms that can lead to disease.

    Except, unfortunately, in those people who already had diverse gut microbes. They didn’t get the same benefit from changing diets.

    “When we dine, we don’t dine alone,” Evans said. “We are dining with all of our microbial friends that we’re carrying around with us.”

    And there’s growing evidence that the 100 trillion or so microbes we carry on us and inside us - what scientists call our microbiome - are doing all sorts of things we never expected, from training our immune systems to regulating our moods.

    Good reasons to treat them right, Evans says.

    “You want to be nice to your microbiome. It could be our friend.”

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Debu-sen from: JPN
    September 06, 2013 9:42 PM
    It is interesting that microbes might cause obesity.
    We know that lean people gain less weight when they eat same amount of food as fat people do.
    We have understood that's caused by thier body characteristics and this report said that are microbes.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.