It's not your fault you're fat: Obesity could be caused by gut bacteria rather than over-eating
Study suggests the bacteria plays a larger role than eating too much or not exercising enoughResearchers found diet that altered gut bacteria caused dramatic weight loss
13:58 GMT, 19 December 2012
Worried about your weight Chinese researchers claim a diet that reduces enterobacter bacterium could help
Obesity may be caused by a certain kind of bacteria rather than eating too much or exercising too little, researchers claim.
The breakthrough study suggests diets that alter the presence of microbes in the stomach could combat the condition.
Researchers in Shanghai studied mice who had been bred to be resistant to obesity. These mice remained slim despite being fed a rich diet and being kept from exercising. However, when some of these mice were injected with the human bacterium enterobacter, they quickly became obese.
Enterobacter was first linked with
obesity after being found in high quantities in the gut of a morbidly
obese human volunteer, said the report from Shanghai's Jiaotong
The mice were injected with the bacterium for up to 10 weeks as part of the experiment.
The experiments show that the bacterium 'may causatively contribute to the development of obesity' in humans, according to the paper published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology.
The researchers added that a patient lost 4stone 7lbs in nine weeks after being placed on a diet of 'whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods and prebiotics', and said this was because it had reduced the bacterium's presence in the patient's gut to 'undetectable' levels.
Enterobacter is part of the normal flora of the human intestinal tract but may play a role in obesity
One of the report's authors, Zhao Liping, lost 3 stone 1lb two years after adopting a diet of fermented probiotic foods such as bitter melon to adjust the balance of bacteria in his gut, the American magazine Science reported earlier this year.
Zhao's work on the role of bacteria in obesity is inspired by traditional Chinese beliefs that the gut is the 'foundation for human health', Science reported.
The scientists wrote in their latest paper that they 'hope to identify more such obesity-inducing bacteria from various human populations' in future research.
Obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980, according to the World Health Organisation, with more than 500 million adults worldwide suffering from the condition according to 2008 statistics.