Gut bacteria may play role in weight loss

Reuters Health Information: Gut bacteria may play role in weight loss

Gut bacteria may play role in weight loss

Last Updated: 2018-08-02

By Reuters Staff

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Gut bacteria may play a key role in whether an individual can successfully lose weight with diet and lifestyle interventions, according to preliminary research.

Researchers analyzed gut microbial composition and function in 26 overweight and obese adults participating in the Mayo Clinic Obesity Treatment Research Program. They obtained fecal stool samples at baseline and after three months.

After three months, nine of 26 participants lost at least 5% of their weight, the team reports in the August issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Average weight loss was 7.89 kg in this "successful" group versus 1.51 kg in the unsuccessful group.

Gut bacteria among individuals who did not lose weight differed from gut bacteria in patients who lost weight.

Specifically, an increased abundance of Phascolarctobacterium was associated with success, while failure was more often seen with an increased abundance of Dialister.

"Interestingly, both genera belong to the Veillonellaceae family, which suggests that compositional shifts within this family may have a role in host energy metabolism," Dr. Purna Kashyap from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues note.

The researchers also found that adults who failed to lose 5% body weight had a significantly increased abundance of enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism.

"A gut microbiota with increased capability for carbohydrate metabolism appears to be associated with decreased weight loss in overweight and obese patients undergoing a lifestyle intervention program," they write.

In a press statement, Dr. Kashyap emphasizes that this is a preliminary finding in a small study, and more research is needed to confirm the role of gut bacteria in weight loss. "While we need to replicate these findings in a bigger study, we now have an important direction to pursue in terms of potentially providing more individualized strategies for people who struggle with obesity," said Dr. Kashyap.

Funding for the study was provided by the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.


Mayo Clin Proc 2018.

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