Child obesity: Families 'in denial' over dangers of overweight …

Families in denial over dangers of child obesity
Families ‘need to recognise that obese children are in trouble’ (Picture: PA)

Obese children are having their chances of fighting the flab scuppered by relatives in denial, a report reveals.

Overweight youngsters face serious health problems in later life and need family members to recognise they are in trouble, the study states.

And with about 30 per cent of two to 15-year-olds in England classified as overweight or obese, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is calling for urgent action. ‘Efforts to manage a child or young person’s weight are not always supported, and are sometimes undermined, by members of the wider family,’ the Nice report says.

‘A lack of recognition or denial that the child is overweight can hinder uptake and adherence to a lifestyle weight management programme.’ Children with at least one obese parent are more likely to follow suit themselves, the Nice report added.

Meanwhile, 79 per cent of overweight early teens are likely to be so as adults, raising the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Although critical of families who refuse to admit their children have a problem, Nice said local authorities should step in to help battle the bulge. Prof Mike Kelly said: ‘Parents should not have to face the challenge of obesity on their own.

We are recommending family-based lifestyle programmes are provided which give tailored advice.’

However, Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said councils have been handed a ‘poisoned chalice’ of dealing with it without proper funding.

Safe foods – Lets take on childhood obesity | Grovelands Childcare

Parents are being urged to make practical changes to everyday lifestyle habits such as portion sizes, drinks and screen time to make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of children and combat the island’s high levels of childhood overweight and obesity. That was the message from safefood with the launch today of a new public health campaign to help parents take on childhood obesity. The campaign will feature on television, radio, poster and point of sale advertising and includes a free booklet for parents that will be available nationwide in crèches, health centres, GP surgeries, and from public health nurses and local libraries.

Launching the campaign, Minister for Health Dr James Reilly TD said: “Obesity presents a real clinical, social and financial challenge which will have a detrimental legacy lasting decades and which will undoubtedly lead Ireland to an unhealthy and extremely costly, if not unaffordable, future if action is not taken now. I want to encourage everybody to help create generations of healthy children who can enjoy their lives to the full and reach their full potential as they develop into adults by making healthier food choices, by being more active and taking the first steps towards reducing overweight and obesity.”

Speaking at the campaign launch, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald TD said “Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in Europe and Ireland is one of the countries worst affected. The Growing Up in Ireland survey, 2011 which is funded by my Department found that 1 in 4 children as young as 3 years of age are overweight or obese. I particularly welcome this new campaign as it seeks to help parents with very practical tips and ideas for actions they can take. We know from research that tackling obesity in childhood requires a family-centred approach, that is part of a wide ranging multi-agency set of initiatives.

The safefood campaign emphasises the importance of taking on practical changes for the whole family which are sustainable for the long term. Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition, safefood said: “We have based our campaign on strong feedback from parents that they wanted a solutions-based approach. For this phase we’re focusing on reducing portion sizes for children, replacing sugary drinks with water and being realistic about foods that ‘should be’ treat foods. While parents may be somewhat aware of the sugar levels in fizzy drinks, they may not be as aware of the sugar content in juice drinks and cordials, and research tells us they are regularly given to children at mealtimes. The sugar content of these drinks varies enormously and parents need to consider replacing these drinks with water instead”, added Dr. Foley-Nolan.

The three year, all island campaign by safefood in partnership with the HSE and Healthy Ireland Framework in the Republic of Ireland and the ‘Fitter Futures for All’ Implementation Plan in Northern Ireland also reminds parents about the negative health impacts of excess weight in childhood and how this can impact on a child’s quality of life.

Dr Cate Hartigan, Head of Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE said “Parents want what is best for their children, however tackling overweight and obesity is a sensitive and difficult task. A fundamental goal of Healthy Ireland is supporting people to enjoy a healthy and active life. This campaign helps make this a reality by motivating and supporting parents to make healthier choices for their children, and by raising awareness and knowledge among health professionals.

Chair of the safefood Advisory Board, Ms Lynn Ní Bhaoighealláin said “We all want children to have a bright future and we get them into all sorts of healthy habits, like brushing their teeth or crossing the road safely. This campaign is about supporting parents in making small changes in their everyday family lives.” At present, approximately 1 in 4 primary¹ school children are overweight or obese. The prevalence of excess weight is also beginning earlier in childhood², with currently 6% of 3 year olds being obese. Speaking at the campaign launch, Consultant Paediatrician and Clinical Lead for the W82GO Healthy Lifestyles programme at Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dr Sinead Murphy said “With a quarter of children overweight or obese, we need to tackle the issue of childhood obesity head on or our next generation will be beset with significant health problems later in life. Evidence shows that once obesity is established, it is both difficult to reverse and can track into adulthood”. “Sadly, children who are overweight are at serious risk of becoming adults who are obese. This increases the risk manifold of developing serious illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancers and shortened life-expectancy”, she continued.

Welcoming this initiative by safefood, Dr Darach O’Ciardha, ICGP Spokesperson said “Obesity is one of the conditions where prevention is certainly better than cure. Any move to educate parents about the need to monitor and prevent bad dietary habits which will last a lifetime, from developing is welcome. This initiative is a first step in tackling the ticking time bomb that is rising obesity levels particularly amongst the young.”

The safefood campaign will also be supported on the safefood website and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter. To find out more about the campaign including how-to videos from health experts and practical advice and guides for parents, visit:  – See more at:

Obesity grips Australia: research shows 40% of adults are …

The obesity crisis in Australia is far worse than experts thought, with new evidence showing 40% of adults are dangerously fat.

The new figures are based on the waist circumferences of 11,000 people who were tracked for 12 years in the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute’s AusDiab study.

Previous estimates using body mass index were 25%.

“The results surprised us,” associate professor Anna Peeters, president of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, said.

When measured around the waist, a man should not be more than 102cm and a woman 88cm, said Peeters, who will present the findings at the society’s scientific meeting in Melbourne on Thursday.

She is pleased about growing government momentum against obesity, but says parents need more support.

“It is important to intervene early in life. We need good programmes for parents from before their children are born.”

A lot could be learnt from the US, which had decreased childhood obesity.

A minority of Australian schools adhered to dietary guidelines, she said, and workplaces should revise their catering and what was allowed in their vending machines.

Obesity was a condition of an inactive, affluent society that consumed in excess, said Peeters, who is head of obesity and population health at Baker IDI.

However, people of lower education and income living in rural areas were most at risk because energy-dense, nutrient-poor food was relatively cheap.

“People don’t need to be thinking too much about weight loss when they are a little overweight, but they do need to be thinking about preventing weight gain,” she said.

“If you are a little overweight at 30, you are likely to be quite overweight by 50.”

One way to avoid children growing up to be obese was to limit sugar intake, said associate professor Tim Gill, of the University of Sydney, who will chair a session at the conference.

“We are burning so few calories that every calorie we eat needs to come from nutritious food,” he said.

Active children should be allowed two small treats a day at most, he said.

The biggest problem was sugary drinks, which should be limited to one glass a week.

“People are not aware how much sugar they are eating. A can of soft drink has eight to ten spoons of sugar, but children and teenagers typically drink double that in a serve. Foods that contain a lot of added sugar contribute little nutrition, but a lot of calories,” he said.

Obesity: not a 'self image' problem – Greg Stevens – The Kernel

My recent article, You eat too much, elicited strong emotional reactions from many readers. The letters and comments still flooding in that express outrage and anger at the article follow two main themes I think are worth addressing.

The first is what I will call “special cases”. What about people who are on medication that cause weight gain? What about people who are injured in an accident? What about people who binge-eat in their sleep and don’t even realize it? Does it really make sense to blame them them for being overweight?

The people who point out these special circumstances are doubtless very well-intentioned. But I think the reflexive tendency to focus on these anecdotal stories is unhelpful.

Look at the numbers for a moment. Over 35 per cent of Americans are obese. Do you really believe that all, or even most, of these individuals fall into these “special case” scenarios? Are they all sleep-eating, or on special medications that cause weight gain? Is it not more likely that even when you factor out people with such “special circumstances”, there are still a large number of people left over who simply have bad habits?

I understand that the people who focus on special cases mean well, because they are trying to introduce nuance into the conversation. They are trying to say: “Don’t paint with a broad brush!”

But by chronically focusing on special case exceptions, rather than personal responsibility, these stories become the excuses that every obese person can latch on to. Every person then imagines him or herself as a “special case” and declares: “Why even bother? It’s out of my control!”

For most people, that is simply not the case.

The second theme is “I struggle with being pudgy”. Many people shared their own stories about growing up as pudgy kids, and always trying to eat right and exercise, and yet nothing seemed to help. These were sincere and emotional stories from people who have battled their entire lives to “lose that last 10-20 pounds”.

They were offended by statements in my article such as: “If you want to make a change, put down the ice cream scoop and pick up a gym membership. It really is that simple.” They wrote to tell me from their own experience: they know it isn’t “that simple”.

I completely understand the frustration that many people feel, battling their entire lives to get into better shape, and often never seeing the results that they want. Many people I know – perhaps most people I know – have lived their entire lives with the quiet desperation of not being completely satisfied with their physical self-image.

But let’s be clear: that is not what this article is about.

The article “You eat too much” is about obesity. Obesity is not “feeling a little fat”. It is not the pudgy little girl who can’t seem to lose that last 10 pounds. It is not the person who works out every day, and counts calories, and still just can’t fit into those 32-inch waist jeans.

There is a huge difference, both psychologically and literally, between someone who “can’t lose that last 10 pounds” and someone who is obese.

When talking about chronic dissatisfaction, seeing yourself as “slightly overweight”, then all of the complexities of issues like self-acceptance and cultural standards of beauty become very important. But that’s not the case with obesity.Obesity is not about self-image, and it is not about whether one can be both “round and sexy”.

It’s about being dangerously, medically overweight.

Perhaps this issue is so sensitive that no amount of clarity would be “clear enough” to prevent this misunderstanding. If that is the case, then that is part of the problem with our culture.

But if we allow people to conflate obesity with “being a little overweight”, then we will never be able to have a serious conversation that addresses obesity for what it is: a serious medical issue that requires changes in behaviour before and above all else.

NOW READ: You eat too much

Overweight and healthy: the concept of metabolically healthy obesity …


Carrying too many pounds is a solid signal of current or future health problems. But not for everyone. Some people who are overweight or obese mange to escape the usual hazards, at least temporarily. This weight subgroup has even earned its own moniker—metabolically healthy obesity.

Health professionals define overweight as a body-mass index (BMI) between 25.0 and 29.9, and obesity as a BMI of 30 or higher. (BMI is a measure of weight that takes height into consideration. You can calculate your BMI here.)

Most people who are overweight or obese show potentially unhealthy changes in metabolism. These include high blood pressure or high cholesterol, which damage arteries in the heart and elsewhere. Another harmful metabolic change is resistance to the hormone insulin, which leads to high blood sugar. As a result, people who are overweight or obese are usually at high risk for having a heart attack or stroke, developing type 2 diabetes, or suffering from a host of other life-changing conditions.

But some people who are overweight or obese manage to avoid these changes and, at least metabolically, look like individuals with healthy weights. “Obesity isn’t a homogeneous condition,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It appears that it doesn’t affect everyone in the same ways.”

Dr. Hu and three colleagues wrote a “Personal View” article in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology reviewing what is known about metabolically healthy obesity. They identified several characteristics of metabolically healthy obesity. These include a high BMI with

  • a waist size of no more than 40 inches for a man or 35 inches for a woman
  • normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar
  • normal sensitivity to insulin
  • good physical fitness

BMI isn’t perfect

BMI is not a perfect measure of weight or obesity. It often identifies fit, muscular people as being overweight or obese. That’s because muscle is more dense than fat, and so weighs more. But muscle tissue burns blood sugar, a good thing, while fat tissue converts blood sugar into fat and stores it, a not-so-good thing.

“Further exploration of metabolically healthy obesity could help us fine-tune the implications of obesity,” says Dr. Hu. “It supports the idea that we shouldn’t use BMI as the sole yardstick for health, and must consider other factors.”

Genes certainly play a role in how a person’s body and metabolism respond to weight. Some people may be genetically protected from developing insulin resistance. Others are genetically programmed to store fat in the hips or thighs, which is less metabolically hazardous than storing fat around the abdomen.

The concept of metabolically healthy obesity could be used to help guide treatment. Currently, exercise and a healthy diet are the foundation for treating obesity. When those efforts aren’t enough, weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery) is sometimes an option. Such surgery is appropriate for people with metabolically unhealthy obesity, the authors suggest, but for people with metabolically healthy obesity it might make more sense to intensify the lifestyle approach rather than have surgery. This idea, however, needs to be tested in clinical studies, says Dr Hu.

Don’t rest easy

Metabolically healthy obesity isn’t common. And it may not be permanent, warns Dr. Hu. Just because a person has metabolically healthy obesity at one point doesn’t it will stay that way. With aging, a slowdown in exercise, or other changes, metabolically healthy obesity can morph into its harmful counterpart.

It’s also important to keep in mind that obesity can harm more than just metabolism. Excess weight can damage knee and hip joints, lead to sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and contributes to the development of several cancers.

Bottom line? Obesity isn’t good, even if it’s the metabolically healthy kind.




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There's an Obesity Epidemic Among America's Dogs

It’s only natural that, being a nation of fatties, our lifestyle is directly reflected on our pets. More than half of American dogs are overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, and while it might be kind of cute, it’s definitely not healthy.

Just like with humans, canine obesity puts dogs at a heightened risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and respiratory diseases, so vets are advising that their patients be put on strict diet and exercise regimens. After all, dogs tend to be overweight because of “lazy owners who confuse food with affection and attention.”

“Dogs today have butlers and maids,” Cesar Millan said. “They don’t hunt for their food anymore, but they should work for food.”

It also has to do with a carb-heavy diet. Dogs apparently don’t really possess a need for carbs unless they are pregnant or nursing. Ideally, they should be on a raw-foods diet, which actually means “a whole rabbit…or a whole squirrel for a fox terrier” which is completely disgusting.

What’s sad is that fat dogs have less of a chance of being adopted.

Indigo Ranch in Vernonia, Ore., is a kennel that offers what it calls a doggy fat camp. The camp began about two years ago, shortly after a county shelter contacted Indigo Rescue, the nonprofit rescue organization financed by Indigo Ranch, about a 3-year-old Lab aptly named Butters. At 142 pounds, he was considered unadoptable and was about to be euthanized, said Heather Hines, the director of Indigo Ranch…

…About five months after he arrived, he had slimmed to 84 pounds.

“He didn’t know he could run or jump until he lost the weight,” Ms. Reed said.

Poor Butters.

Image via WilleeCole/Shutterstock

Roll Over? Fat Chance [NYT]

Happy pills are linked to a higher risk of diabetes: Antidepressants can cause …

  • Researchers say the risk is for all antidepressants, not just some types
  • The pills could put hundreds of thousands at risk of type 2 diabetes
  • The increased risk could be because people on antidepressants are more likely to be overweight and this is a risk factor for diabetes
  • Scientists think the pills may also be an independent risk factor

Sophie Borland Health Reporter

14:00 EST, 24 September 2013


19:10 EST, 24 September 2013

Antidepressants taken by hundreds of thousands of people may increase the chances of developing diabetes, researchers warn

Antidepressants taken by hundreds of thousands of people may increase the chances of developing diabetes, researchers warn

Antidepressants taken by hundreds of thousands of people may increase the chances of developing diabetes, researchers warn.

A major study involving more than a million patients has shown that those taking all antidepressant pills are at far higher risk from the condition.

Academics from Southampton University think this may be because antidepressants cause weight gain which in turn leads to type 2 diabetes.

But despite the strong link, they cannot be sure that the pills are definitely causing the condition.

Patients on antidepressants are more likely to be overweight so have a higher risk of developing diabetes in the first place than healthy individuals.

The numbers of Britons taking antidepressants has soared in the last decade and more than 50 million prescriptions were handed out by GPs last year compared to just 20 million in 1999.

But experts say doctors are handing out the pills too freely without considering the possible long-term side effects.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, academics from Southampton University looked at 25 research papers that involved just over a million patients.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found many patients were developing type 2 diabetes – the commonest form – after they had been prescribed antidepressants, which suggests the pills cause the illness.

Antidepressants can cause weight gain
and obesity which in turn worsens the body’s ability to regulate blood
sugar -which triggers diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr Katharine Barnard, a
health psychologist from the University of Southampton said:
‘Antidepressants are used widely in the UK, with a significant increase
in their use recently.

A major study involving more than a million patients has shown that those taking all antidepressant pills are at far higher risk from the condition

A major study involving more than a million patients has shown that those taking all antidepressant pills are at far higher risk from diabetes

‘Our research shows that when you take away all the classic risk factors of type 2 diabetes; weight gain, lifestyle etc, there is something about antidepressants that appears to be an independent risk factor.

‘This potential increased risk is worrying. Heightened alertness to the possibility of diabetes in people taking antidepressants is necessary until further research is conducted.’

Richard Holt, Professor in Diabetes
and Endocrinology at the University of Southampton, said: ‘While
depression is an important clinical problem and antidepressants are
effective treatments for this debilitating condition, clinicians need to
be aware of the potential risk of diabetes, particularly when using
antidepressants in higher doses or for longer duration.

prescribing antidepressants, doctors should be aware of this risk and
take steps to monitor for diabetes and reduce that risk of diabetes
through lifestyle modification.’

The numbers of Britons taking antidepressants has soared in the last decade and more than 50 million prescriptions were handed out by GPs last year compared to just 20 million in 1999

The numbers of Britons taking antidepressants has soared in the last decade and more than 50 million prescriptions were handed out by GPs last year compared to just 20 million in 1999

Around 3 million people in Britain have now been diagnosed with diabetes, nearly twice as many compared to 1996 when there were just 1.4 million sufferers.

The rise has been blamed on increasing levels of obesity and nine in ten patients have type 2 diabetes which is triggered by being overweight.

Experts calculate that by 2020, there will be 4 million people in the UK with the condition.

Comments (54)

Share what you think

The comments below have not been moderated.


Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom,

9 minutes ago

I love these comments particularly as I have yet to see a GP who isn’t a loon anyway:)


Wise County Texas,

22 minutes ago

Sophie Borland, you haven’t a clue. Antidepressants do not make people happy.

It is true however that far too many people are prescribed these who may not truly need them. In the USA, doctors are pressured to give these out, and then sued if someone offs themselves while taking them.


Fort Worth, United States,

1 hour ago

I’d like to see “happy pill” replaced with the accurate description “antidepressant”. As a long-term sufferer of severe depression, these medications have literally saved my life.

Yes, I have gained some weight – I am far from overweight – and diabetes runs in my family, but I consider the risks involved as opposed to quality of life.

In addition to antidepressants, I am in therapy and look forward to mental health in the future. With any medication, doctors are quick to write a prescription / apply a band-aid. Any drug can be misprescribed.



2 hours ago

I wish the DM would stop calling them happy pills. for some people they just help to live a normal life not ‘happy’


Swindon, United Kingdom,

56 minutes ago

So true, I need them just to function and live a normal life. Without them I sleep most of the time and have no control of my moods. I’m either crying or angry.



3 hours ago

Someone who has reached a situation in life where they are prescribed antidepressants are going to be less likely to excerise as lack of energy and motivation are symptons of depression as is comfort eating. Also a side effect of antidepressants can be drowsiness which is also going to make the patient less active. A patient with a broken leg is probably also going to gain weight but not because of the painkillers. Simple scaremongering.


Sunny Florida, United States,

3 hours ago

I took Prozac at age 27 and in less than 2 years my weight jumped from 135 to 164. The gain was so depressing! My weight went back down after discontinuing it. In the almost 18 years since then, I’ve taken 2 other antidepressants with no weight gain. At age 45, I feel fortunate to have low blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.



4 hours ago

Everything and anything can cause weight gain or loss but it’s how we manage this which is important.

is the pope catholic,

rome, Vatican,

4 hours ago

so if your taking them be mindful of this and excersise and eat healthy etc,but then again,next week they will say prozac cures diabetes



4 hours ago

And they don’t work anyway.


Cheadle Hulme, United Kingdom,

11 minutes ago

It depends – they do sometimes and if they don’t you need to have a chat with someone:)


UK, United Kingdom,

5 hours ago

Developing diabetes in later life is a small price to pay for a depression treatment that actually works.

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Five meals a day prevents youth obesity | Yle Uutiset |


A new 5-a-day rule seems to be in the offing.

Image: Arja Lento / Yle

Master of Health Sciences Anne Jääskeläinen’s doctoral research shows that a regular five meal rhythm on weekdays protects against overweight and obesity in young people – as well as in infants who might be prone to overly padded waistlines.

According to the study, even those who are genetically more susceptible to weight gain will not pack on more kilos than their more genetically fortunate peers if they stick to the five a day rule.

The results also show that if a father was overweight before the mother’s pregnancy, the risk factors are almost the same as if the mother was overweight before the pregnancy began – for both girls and boys. In addition, mothers who packed on the pounds at the start of their pregnancy increased the risk of continuing the trend in their offspring.

The study brings new information on early risk factors associated with young Finns at risk of overweight and obesity.

Low diversity of gut bacteria linked to heart disease, obesity

By Staff Writer
NYR Natural News

Natural Health News — New research shows that there is a link between number and diversity of bacterial species in the gut and the risk of chronic disease.

An international consortium of researchers report that overweight people with fewer bacterial species in their intestines are more likely to develop complications, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In addition, a gut with decreased bacterial richness appears to function entirely differently to the healthy variety with greater diversity.

Says lead researcher Jeroen Raes from the University of Brussels: “This is an amazing result with possibly enormous implications for the treatment and even prevention of the greatest public health issue of our time.”

Diversity is the key

Gut bacteria strengthens our immune system, produces vital vitamins and communicates with the nerve cells and hormone-producing cells within the intestinal system. The researchers add that gut bacteria also produces a variety of “bioactive substances” which enter the bloodstream, affecting our biology.

The gut needs a wide diversity of intestinal bacteria in order to maintain all these processes. In the current study people who were overweight were more likely to have low diversity in their gut flora.

The bacterial link

In this current study researchers took a closer look at the intestinal flora of 169 obese Danes and 123 non-obese Danes. The results were published in the journal Nature.

According to Raes “We were able to distinguish between two groups based on their intestinal flora: people with a large richness of bacterial species in their intestines and people with a fewer bacterial species. A species-rich bacterial flora appeared to function differently compared to the poorer variety. It was surprising to see that obese and non-obese people were found in both groups.”

The scientists found that the group with lower species richness in their intestinal flora was more susceptible to developing obesity-related conditions and chronic inflammation.

In addition, the obese people in this group were more at risk of cardiovascular conditions than the obese people in the other group. These are important results that suggest that it is not only weight gain and dietary habits that play a role in the development of medical complications in obese people.

Chicken and egg?

Metabolic conditions have become an epidemic partly due to the modern sedentary lifestyle and the and easy access to large amounts of energy-dense food. It is expected that obesity will increase tremendously all over the world; from 400 million obese people in 2005, to more than 700 million in 2015.

Some people appear to be more vulnerable to putting on eight than others and many studies over the years have examined the possible cause of this.

The researchers say they do not know whether lack of intestinal bacteria is the cause of obesity, or whether obesity causes a decrease in intestinal bacteria.

However, previous research has also suggested a link between gut bacteria and obesity. A study from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, for example, found that certain types of bacteria in the gut cause it to take more calories from food, therefore leading to weight gain.

Dietary measures

Another finding of the international study was that a quarter of the participants had 40% fewer gut bacteria genes and correspondingly fewer bacteria than average.

Extrapolated to the entire population this suggests that a low number and diversity of gut bacteria could play a major role in health problems.

They say they cannot yet explain fully why some people have fewer intestinal bacteria compared with others, but they believe our diet may be a contributing factor.

They point to a 2012 study from a French research team, which revealed that a group of overweight participants who followed a low-fat diet for 6 weeks and who had fewer intestinal bacteria at the beginning of the diet, showed an increase in gut bacteria in both variety and amount.

“Our intestinal bacteria are actually to be considered an organ just like our heart and brain, and the presence of health-promoting bacteria must therefore be cared for in the best way possible. Over the next years, we will be gathering more knowledge of how best to do this.”

Your Gut Bacteria May Predict Your Obesity Risk – WebMD

Your Gut Bacteria May Predict Your Obesity Risk

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) — Bacteria in people’s digestive systems — gut germs — seem to affect whether they become overweight or obese, and new research sheds more light on why that might be.

The findings, from an international team of scientists, also suggest that a diet heavy in fiber could change the makeup of these germs, possibly making it easier for people to shed pounds.

“We know gut bacteria affect health and obesity, but we don’t know exactly how,” said Dusko Ehrlich, a co-author of the two new studies and coordinator of the International Human Microbiome Standards project.

The research finds that “people who put on the most weight lack certain bacterial species or have them at very low levels. This opens ways to develop bacterial therapies to fight weight gain,” he said.

Experts believe the gut, where the body processes food, is crucial to weight gain and weight loss.

“It is now well known that bacteria in our gut play an important role in our health and well-being, possibly as important as our own immune response and proper nutrition,” said Jeffrey Cirillo, a professor at Texas AM Health Science Center’s department of microbial pathogenesis and immunology. “This means that disruption of the bacteria in our gut by use of antibiotics or eating foods that help only particular bacteria grow can have effects upon our entire bodies.”

A study released last March in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggested that gastric bypass surgery led to weight loss — in mice — because it changed the makeup of the bacteria in their intestines.

In one of the new studies, which are both published in the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Nature, researchers analyzed the gut bacteria of 169 obese Danish people and 123 Danish people who were not obese.

The gut germs in the obese people were less diverse than in the others, and had more abnormalities in terms of metabolism. Also, obese people with a less diverse supply of germs gained more weight.

It’s not clear how the bacteria and obesity are related. But the research suggests that the metabolisms of the germs themselves are connected to the overall metabolism in the humans where they live, Cirillo said.

The finding could also have a practical application, the researchers said.

“The study lays ground for a simple test, which should tell people what their risk for developing obesity-linked diseases is,” study co-author Ehrlich said. If they are, he said, diet changes may be necessary.

In a second study, researchers monitored gut bacteria as 49 overweight and obese people tried to lose weight with diets that were low-fat and low-calorie but high in protein plus fiber-rich foods like vegetables and fruits. The diet appeared to actually change the bacterial makeup in the guts of the participants.

“Although these are relatively early and small studies on the topic, they suggest that management of our own diets can improve the richness of the flora within our guts and decrease our chances of becoming obese,” said Cirillo. “This does not mean that changes in diet will be effective for all people or that they can prevent obesity no matter how much someone eats, but that they can help the situation.”