SHARE
COPY LINK

OBESITY

Obesity could be caused by bacteria: French study

Is obesity caused by something other than the common explanations of a bad diet and lack of excercise? According to a new study carried out in France the probelem could be linked to levels of bacteria in the gut.

Obesity could be caused by bacteria: French study
A French study suggests obesity is not caused by lack of exercise and poor diet, but by levels of certain bacteria in the gut. Photo: Tobyotter/Flickr

Obesity and the medical problems it causes could be linked to a lack of good bacteria in the gut according to findings of a new study in France.

Many believe obesity is caused by nothing other than poor diet and lack of exercise but the findings of the latest French-Danish study by the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA), based in Paris point to a low count of a certain kind of "good" bacteria in the gut as another possible cause.

The study, carried out in both France and Denmark and published in scientific journal Nature, found a link between obesity and people with a low number of good bacteria present in their intestinal flora. Good bacteria are those which help digest food and fight against bad bacteria. People with a lower bacteria count were shown to be more susceptible to becoming obese.

“If you have less good bacteria, the risk of developing serious illnesses such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems is a lot higher” said Professor Dusko Erlich, the coordinator of the study.

Erlich added that the results were important because “we think that if we manage to replace these bacteria, it could help prevent excessive weight gain.” However, he admits that scientists first need to learn “how to cultivate the bacteria, which we are unable to do right now.”

Researchers studied 123 non–obese and 169 obese Danish people. They discovered that amongst the subjects studied, the people who had a greater presence of good bacteria in their intestines, had a greater resistance diseases like diabetes.

They also found that the obese people with less bacteria put on more weight than obese people with more intestinal bacteria.

Obesity is a major issue for Western countries, who are undertaking new studies to tackle the problem. In 2005 it was estimated that 500 million people were obese and this number looks set to rise to 700 million by 2015, reported French TV station Europe 1.

In a second study published in the same journal, researchers found that a diet rich in fibre and fruit and vegetables followed over a course of 12 weeks could significantly improve intestinal flora and increase the good bacteria in the gut, thus reducing some health complications linked to obesity.

This supports previous research showing that changes to diet can have direct effects on bacteria in the gut.

by Naomi Firsht

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

OBESITY

US giant Coca-Cola ‘paid €8m to influence French health researchers’

US beverage giant Coca-Cola paid more than €8 million in France to health professionals and researchers in a bid to influence research,according to an investigation by French newspaper Le Monde published on Thursday.

US giant Coca-Cola 'paid €8m to influence French health researchers'
Obesity is on the rise in France. Photo:AFP

The newspaper said the aim of the funds was to have research published that would divert attention away from the detrimental effect of sugary drinks on health.

Le Monde, in its front page story, said Coca-Cola paid more than “€8 million to experts, various medical organisations and also sporting and event organisations.”

It said in France, as elsewhere, the financing fell under communication or sponsorship and not as authentic scientific work.

Coca-Cola has been under a similar spotlight before, after the New York Times in 2015 reported that the company gave financial backing to scientists who argued that having more exercise is more important to avoiding obesity than cutting calories.

In the outcry that followed that report, the firm promised to improve transparency and publish on its site the names of experts and activities it finances in the United States.

It did the same for France in 2016 following pressure from the NGO Foodwatch and it is this data that has been intensely analysed by Le Monde.

Le Monde said that as in the US, the company's financing is aimed at “making people forget the risks that come with consuming its drinks”.

In a separate report, the Journal of Public Health Policy said Coca-Cola added multiple clauses to ensuring the research it funds produces the desired result.

These include preventing results that displease the company being published by reserving the right to break contracts without giving a reason.

SHOW COMMENTS