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University professor connects intestinal bacteria, obesity

By Shen Shushu Source:Global Times Published: 2012-12-16 23:35:08

A Shanghai Jiao Tong University professor published a study in an internationally recognized science journal that found a direct link between a kind of intestinal bacterium and obesity in humans, according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency.

It marks the first time a scientist has shown a causal relationship between the two, according to the report.

Zhao Liping, deputy dean of the School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and his research team got their study published in the December 13 issue of The ISME Journal, a journal of microbial ecology.

Zhao found out that a particular kind of intestinal bacteria called enterobacter cloacae could cause obesity because its extracted endotoxin activates a gene that helps generate fat and deactivates a gene that causes fat to be consumed, according to the report.

In the study, Zhao found that by reducing the enterobacter cloacae in a subject by changing a subject's diet, he could stimulate weight loss. One volunteer weighing 174.8 kilograms lost 51.4 kilograms and recovered from hyperglycemia and hypertension after going on a diet of whole grains, traditional Chinese medicinal foods and prebiotics for 23 weeks, according to the ISME article.

Zhao personal experience led him to the research after scientists discovered a connection between obesity and gut microbiota in mice, according to an article in the June 6 issue of Science magazine. Curious if such a link existed in humans, Zhao went on a diet of fermented prebiotic foods - Chinese yams and bitter melon - and whole grains to see if he could alter the bacterial ecology of his digestive system. Over the course his personal experiment, during which he tracked the microbes in his gut, he lost 20 kilograms in two years. The results convinced him to begin to study intestinal bacteria in humans.

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