Obesity, Motility, Diet, and Intestinal Microbiota—Connecting the Dots


Purpose of Review

The goal of the present review is to explore the relationship between dietary changes and alterations in gut microbiota that contribute to disorders of gut motility and obesity.

Recent Findings

We review the microbiota changes that are seen in obesity, diarrhea, and constipation and look at potential mechanisms of how dysbiosis can predispose to these. We find that microbial metabolites, particularly short chain fatty acids, can lead to signaling changes in the host enterocytes. Microbial alteration leading to both motility disorders and obesity may be mediated by the release of hormones including glucagon-like peptides 1 and 2 (GLP-1, GLP-2) and polypeptide YY (PYY). These pathways provide avenues for microbiota-targeted interventions that can treat both disorders of motility and obesity.


In summary, multiple mechanisms contribute to the interplay between the microbial dysbiosis, obesity, and dysmotility.

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Fig. 1



Short chain fatty acids


Toll-like receptor


Fermentable oligosaccharides, monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polyols


Glucagon-like peptide


Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide


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SS is funded by NIH grant number NIH RO1 DK080684 and a VA Merit Award.

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Maya Fayfman, Kristen Flint, and Shanthi Srinivasan declare no conflict of interest.

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Fayfman, M., Flint, K. & Srinivasan, S. Obesity, Motility, Diet, and Intestinal Microbiota—Connecting the Dots. Curr Gastroenterol Rep 21, 15 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11894-019-0680-y

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  • Gut microbiome
  • Dysmotility
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Obesity