Characterized by an increase of adipose tissue, obesity impacts health and life expectancy. The observed changes in the composition of intestinal microbiota in obese patients offers a novel approach that gives hope for the discovery of new treatments.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the numbers of obese and overweight patients are constantly rising and they now represent 39% of the world population. Overweight or obese people are at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Gastrointestinal flora disorder in obese patients
A genetic predisposition to obesity, sedentary lifestyle, insufficient sleep, psychological factors and an unbalanced diet too high in fats and sugars are among the causes contributing to obesity. Notably, examination of the gastrointestinal flora (microbiota) in obese subjects has revealed perturbed compositions of their microbiota (dysbiosis), which are poor in certain bacteria. This modified composition is responsible for more efficient extraction of energy from food in the intestine, which, in turn, promotes greater energy storage in these subjects.
A modified microbiota to lose weight?
Weight loss due to dieting can change the composition of the intestinal microbiota, which starts to resemble that of normal weight individuals. Although the microbiota is relatively stable throughout life, it seems that dietary interventions that modify the quantity and quality of certain nutrients are able to modulate its composition. Current research on interactions between microbiota and weight gain is revealing innovative therapeutic prospects.