The Microbiome That Shapes Us: Can It Cause Obesity?


Purpose of Review

We sought to examine the effects of the gut microbial makeup on weight gain and obesity. We wanted to find out what the current research on this topic was and what the effect of the gut microbiota on energy metabolism is, as well the effects of diet on the microbiome and what effect the microbiome has on metabolic syndrome.

Recent Findings

Obesity is thought to be due to greater calorie intake than expenditure. Recently, research has looked into the effects of the microbiome on obesity. Our gut flora is made up of trillions of microbes and there is evidence to suggest that even from the earliest stages of life, altering that flora can affect human’s ability to gain and lose weight, which can lead to obesity and ultimately other disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and liver disease.


Obesity can affect the human body in profound ways and lead to a multitude of comorbidities. We found that the obesity pandemic appears to parallel the increased use of antibiotics seen across the US. In addition, the use of antibiotics can alter the gut flora even from the earliest stages of life and the altered microbiome can alter our body habitus and energy metabolism through antibiotics, diet, and bariatric surgery.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Endashaw Omer.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Nutrition and Obesity

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Omer, E., Atassi, H. The Microbiome That Shapes Us: Can It Cause Obesity?. Curr Gastroenterol Rep 19, 59 (2017).

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  • Microbiota
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Short-chain fatty acids
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Lipopolysaccharides (LPS)
  • Butyrate
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)