A new study conducted recently by researchers from Arizona State University looks at the association between gut microbiota and weight loss in people with severe obesity and concludes that the bacteria may have an important role in the treatment of the condition.
More specifically, the researchers reached the conclusion after assessing the changes in gut bacteria of the participants in the study before and after they underwent gastric bypass surgery, which is a procedure held specifically for weight loss in obese people.
Currently, obesity is one of the most major problems faced by almost all of the countries around the world.
According to the statistics from the World Health Organization, around 1.9 billion adults globally were overweight and around six hundred and fifty million were obese. As a result, obesity is also a result of 2.8 million deaths each year
In the United States, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately forty percent of the population is either overweight or obese.
These statistics have caused much concern within the US and on a global scale as obesity is linked to the top leading reasons for death including heart disease, type 2, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.
This is why there is an increased emphasis on adopting a healthier lifestyle and following a balanced diet by health experts. Till now, the diet was the primary focus of researchers.
Even though diet is one of the fundamental causes of obesity, new studies have uncovered various other factors that may contribute to its development and even treatment.
Exercising and a healthy diet are the most commonly taken measures for the treatment of obesity. However, gastric bypass surgery is also an alternative option available to people who experience extreme obesity.
With the surgery, patients are guaranteed to lose weight and even maintain it given that they follow the instructions of their doctors and are willing to change their lifestyles.
While the surgery gives effective results, scientists are still looking at the multiple ways it changes the body and helps in both losing and maintaining weight.
In the new study, whose findings appear in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes, the researchers also looked at one of the effects of having a gastric bypass surgery which is alterations in the gut microbiota.
In order to do so, the researchers compared and followed twenty-four participants who had undergone gastric bypass surgery prior to the procedure and months after having it.
All of the participants lost weight after the surgical procedure as expected by the researchers. However, they also noted that there were changes in the microbiomes present in the feces and rectal mucosa of the participants as well.
Both of the changes had been seen after six months of having gastric bypass surgery. Secondly, there were also changes in the breakdown of bile acids and fats along with food fermentation.
All of these factors are usually associated with improvements in the metabolism of a person. Zehra Esra Ilhan, who is the leading author of the study, explains “Our findings highlight the importance of changes in mucosal and fecal microbiomes that are reflected on gut metabolism after surgery,”
These findings of the study are important in understanding the mechanism behind the working and effectiveness of gastric bypass surgery.
They may also help in developing alternative treatments for obesity that work in the same manner but are cheaper and less invasive.
The co-author of the study, Prof. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, says “Understanding the microbial behavior in the gut could potentially lead to creating a probiotic that could replace surgery — or an improved indicator to identify the best candidates for surgery and sustained weight loss.”
The researchers hope to continue and investigate further the association between microbiome and weight loss in the future and work with larger cohorts.