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The Biome in Your Belly

By Robert Frederick

St. Louis, MO – This week at Washington University, scientists presented new results that suggests the obesity epidemic in the U.S. may be due in part to the environment within the body.

The results show that microbes within the digestive tract work together to digest food more efficiently than the body can alone, and that they really like high fructose corn syrup.

Microbes were here first, and so all animals have had to evolve in the presence of them, sharing food and other resources. Scientists found that two microbes from the human digestive tract work together to get more calories from the same amount of food than either microbe could alone. Washington University gastroenterologist Jeffrey Gordon is lead author of the study:

"There may be differences in the efficiency of operation of our intestines, and that those differences may affect our predisposition to leanness or obesity."

It's a case where being more efficient means being more fat.