Breakthrouh in obesity treatment: Bacteria taken from the body of slim people reduces body fat

Gut bacteria are a huge topic in medicine and a subject of a growing number of scientific studies. In a recent study scientists discovered that these microorganisms play a large role in determining a person’s weight. These findings might secure gut bacteria a central place in medical research and in the obesity treatment centres.

 The USA has invested a huge amount of money in making attempts to discover a solution to the problem with obesity. 


Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis did a set of experiments based on the hypothesis that the composition of gut bacteria in a person’s body is the reason for slowing down or speeding up human metabolism and hence a person’s inclination for gaining or losing weight.

In order to exclude the other factors influencing a person’s weight – genes and living environment, the scientists chose as a subject of their study monozygotic twins who differed only in weight. 

The researchers took gut bacteria from the slim twins and the overweight twins and put them in the bodies of lab mice. The mice had grown in a sterile environment and they had no bacteria of their own. In addition, the lab mice were genetically identical. 

Mice were divided into two groups. The first group received bacteria from the slim people and the second group – from the obese. Mice with the obese twin's bacteria became heavier and their body fat increased by 15-17% within 5 weeks. Mice in the other group remained lean.

Then the scientists put all mice in one cage in order to see what would happen when bacteria from slim and obese people mix since mice have the habit of eating each other’s feces. During the “bacteria battle” it turned out that slim mice stayed slim and obese mice lost weight. It is important to point out that during this period of cohabitation mice were fed with food rich in fibers and without trans-fat acids. 

The next stage of the study was to check the role of nutrition in the composition of gut bacteria. Mice’s diet switched to the typical American diet – poor in fibers and containing a lot of trans-fat acids. The result: mice gained weight again.

The conclusion of the team of scientists who participated in the study was that a mix of bacteria taken from slim people can be given to obese people to accelerate the process of slimming down. However, this method must be combined with the right diet since obviously healthy foods allow for good bacteria to grow and work properly.

D-r Gordon, one of the researchers commented on the possible effect of the findings on the future development of food industry:

"In the future, the nutritional value and the effects of food will involve significant consideration of our microbiota, and developing healthy, nutritious foods will be done from the inside out, not just the outside in," he said.

D-r Karp, another participant in the study, noted that he was not sure weight loss centres would take the cautious approach required in using this brand-new method for treating obesity:

“It would not surprise me if someone somewhere starts doing it,” Dr. Karp said. 

According to D-r Gordon, it might take at least 5 more years of research to determine the best combinations of gut bacteria to match a person's diet, and then to grow those microorganisms in sterile lab dishes and finally to turn them into pills.