A new form of obesity treatment may be possible by manipulating the bacteria found in the digestive system, researchers have said.
Experts at Mayo Clinic Arizona have examined the role that bacteria play in the gut in terms of regulating weight after a number of studies suggested they may be involved in the development of obesity.
In an editorial in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, they note that 'friendly' bacteria in the gut help to extract calories from the food we eat and suggest that these bacteria may differ between healthy and obese people.
Dr John DiBaise, a Mayo Clinic Arizona gastroenterologist, said that this raises the possibility "that the manipulation of gut microbiota could be a useful strategy for regulating energy balance in obese people".
The expert noted that it will be essential to demonstrate "unequivocally" whether differences in gut bacteria are the cause or the result of obesity.
If they turn out to be the cause, he said that manipulating the bacteria "may represent a novel approach for treating obesity that has few adverse effects".