Study: Bacteria in your gut may be key to weight management - KMSP-TV

Study: Bacteria in your gut may be key to weight management

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The eternal question of what makes some people gain weight or lose weight more easily may be closer to having an answer thanks to research from Massachusetts General Hospital.

The new studies show the bacteria inside the intestines may help determine whether or not someone can gain or lose weight easily.

Researchers also looked at the popular gastric-bypass surgery and it found it seems to work not only because of a shrunken stomach, but also because the bacteria are rearranged. People who have the surgery generally lose 65 percent to 75 percent of their excess weight, but scientists have not fully understood why.

Now, researchers are saying that bacterial changes may account for 20 percent of the weight loss, and doctors say the findings mean that eventually, treatments that adjust the microbe levels in the gut may be developed to help people lose weight without surgery.

Surgery is a last resort for many, and this information could help the 80 million obese people in this country avoid the procedure, which an estimated 200,000 Americans get every year. However, researchers say it is not yet known how the altered intestinal bacteria might cause weight loss.

Even so, it appears that some microbes rev up the metabolism in order to burn off more energy. While that so-called "weight gain" organism may have been useful thousands of years ago when people ate more roughage and needed to squeeze every last calorie out of their food, modern diets are much richer. That means the bacteria is "retaining the calories" and may be partly to blame for obesity.

FOX 9 News spoke with Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, author of "Trust Your Gut," about the research and what it may mean for those who live with digestive issues and obesity.

Watch the video for more information.

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