Several recent studies suggest that the microbiome bacterial community of an individual’s gut may play a role in obesity by increasing or decreasing that individual’s energy harvesting efficiency of its caloric intake. Obese individuals contain bacterial species that are known to ferment carbohydrates to acetate and other short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are then absorbed across the intestinal epithelium and converted to energy or stored as fat. The fermentation of carbohydrates to acetate is controlled in part by hydrogen gas that inhibits acetate production. Obese individuals have high levels of hydrogen gas consuming bacteria that remove this acetate-inhibiting roadblock. Mayo researchers propose the use of bacterial species that consume acetate and other fatty acids or those that produce hydrogen gas to block acetate production as a means to reduce caloric absorption and treat obesity.
Use of bacterial species as prebiotic or probiotic agents to reduce caloric absorption and treat or prevent obesity.
Stage of Development
Analysis of the microbiome flora from normal and obese individuals revealed that obese individuals contain species that ferment carbohydrates to acetate and increase absorption of fatty acids.
Dibaise et al. Gut microbiota and its possible relationship with obesity. Mayo Clin Proc 2008;83(4):460-9.