Gut Bugs Play Central Role in European Obesity Congress

gut bugs obesity eco2014I am currently attending the 21st European Congress on Obesity in Sofia, Bulgaria, where the opening plenary talk was given by Karin Clement on gut microbiota-host interactions in obesity.

As a regular reader, you are probably well aware of the fast-evolving research on this issue, suggesting that the bugs that live in your gut may have a causal role to play in the development of obesity.

Indeed, there is now abundant evidence that obesity, both in animal models and humans, is very much related to variations in gut bug populations and diversity.

There is also considerable evidence to suggest that, rather than this being a mere consequence of excess weight, these differences may well play a causal role in the development of excess weight gain.

In her talk, Clement discussed the latest findings on how  dietary interventions can results in a “healthier” pattern of gut bacteria, but she also emphasized that the differences in gut bugs found between obese and non-obese individuals cannot be explained by dietary patterns alone.

Clement also presented studies on gut bacteria changes seen in patients who underwent bariatric surgery.

Again, while patients with gastric-bypass surgery showed a marked change in gut microbial pattern, these changes were not fully explained by changes in dietary food intake.

Rather, it appears that bariatric surgery may exert some of its benefits through alteration of the gut bacteria.

Some of the most compelling data on the role of gut bacteria in obesity (and other metabolic problems) comes from fecal transplant studies in animals (and a few human studies).

Clearly, these findings open up a whole new avenue for obesity research, which may well lead to new approaches to manage obesity and related metabolic disorders.

Sofia, Bulgaria