Obesity constitutes a significant and rapidly increasing public health challenge and is associated with significant co-morbidities and healthcare costs. Although undoubtedly multifactorial, research over the last decade has demonstrated that the microbes that colonize the human gut may contribute to the development of obesity through roles in polysaccharide breakdown, nutrient absorption, inflammatory responses and gut permeability. Studies have consistently shown that the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio, in particular, is increased in obesity and reduces with weight loss. In addition, we and others have shown that the methanogenic Archaea may also contribute to altered metabolism and weight gain in the host. However, much remains to be learned about the roles of different gut microbial populations in weight gain and obesity and the underlying mechanisms before we can begin to approach targeted treatments.
Obesity and the microbiome Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 August