Losing weight without eating less or exercising more may sound too good to be true. But not if you get bacteria to do the work for you. We know that gut bacteria play a vital role in digestion. But now it seems that increasing levels of one type of human gut microbe can help people lose excess weight.
Yukio Kadooka and colleagues in Japan gave 87 overweight volunteers 100 grams of fermented milk - which is used to make yoghurt - twice a day, while they continued with their normal diets. The milk drunk by half of the group was enriched with Lactobacillus gasseri. After 12 weeks, these volunteers had lost an average of 1 kilogram, while their counterparts showed no change in weight.
Scans revealed that they had lost 4.6 per cent of their "bad", visceral fat, which surrounds internal organs and is implicated in metabolic syndrome, and 3.3 per cent of their subcutaneous fat. Hip and waist circumference also went down by an average of 1.7 and 1.5 centimetres respectively. Kadooka thinks that the bacteria may cause weight loss by inhibiting fat absorption in the intestine,
Matthew Digby, who researches dietary milk proteins at the University of Melbourne in Australia and was not involved in the study says "For doing absolutely nothing, that's a lot."
Obesity in children is also becoming a nationa wide concern.
25 March 2010
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.19