November 03, 2016
7 min watch

VIDEO: Gut microbiome key influencer of weight, metabolic syndrome

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NEW ORLEANS — In this video exclusive, C. Ronald Kahn, MD, chief academic officer and senior investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center and the Mary K. Iacocca professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, discusses the role of the gut microbiome in relation to genes and environment in determining body composition and metabolic health.

Differences in bacteria present in the gut correlate with the propensity for individuals — animals and humans — to become obese and develop metabolic syndrome, according to Kahn. Different microbiota are found in lean people and people with obesity. These communities of bacteria change in response to diet and are not only markers of obesity and other health conditions, but can actually cause them.

Changing an individual’s microbiome can affect body composition and metabolic health. Kahn is working to identify which microbes are most detrimental and which are most helpful to human health with the aim of eventually developing therapies that deliver “good” bacteria or that work in the same way.

“If we can figure out the biochemical pathways that the bacteria use, then maybe we don’t need the bacteria at all,” Kahn said.