Microbes and obesity – Quirks and Quarks radio show

Quirks and Quarks, CBC's national science radio show, aired a great program yesterday on the multfactorial causes of obesity. Of particular interest were the segments on microbial factors. It turns out that obesity can be triggered in mice by changing which microbes live in their gut. The theory is that microbes harvest nutrients from food, and an excess of some microbes leads to superior caloric extraction. That means that depending on your gut's "microbial nation," you might get two or three times as many calories out of your food as your best friend.

I listen to Quirks every weekend and have done since I was a little kid. It's hands-down my favorite science radio show.

Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is also looking for factors that contribute to obesity. He's been studying microbes that live in the gut, and has found that the types of bacteria found in the stomach vary between obese and lean mice. Not only that, but by transferring these bacteria into other mice, he can influence whether they'll turn out skinny or fat.

In a similar vein, Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar is also looking at microbes. But he's studying viruses. He's found a virus that infects chickens, and makes them gain weight. He's tested humans and found that some obese people carry the same virus, suggesting it may be infecting us, too.


MP3 Link,

Ogg Link

Podcast feed

See also:
Animated map of American obesity 1985-2004
Obesity growing (ahem) faster than starvation
Sleepdep doubles obesity risk
Promising anti-obesity pill
Obesity in America leads to boom in sales of larger chairs
Is obesity caused by a virus?
American obesity skyrockets, 73% obese or overweight by 2008
Obesity and oral contraceptives
Yale's obesity blog
Obesity, inactivity overtaking tobacco as top USA death cause
Historical origins of obesity
Does sprawl make us fat?
Is high-fructose corn syrup the devil? Yup.
Global overweight now outnumber global malnourished
GOP shifts priorities, advocates Cheeseburger Bill while Rome burns
Exercise in a pill
America's supersized asses demand supersized toilet seats
Dance Dance Revolution at 765 schools
Dance Dance Revolution for every school in W Virginia
Kit Reed's new sf novel
Does fat make you fat?
Adult Happy Meals include pedometers, personal responsibility
Quirks and Quarks is not dead!
Quirks and Quarks on biowar
Radio show on the science of happiness
Is autism a "disorder"? Is psychopathy a "disease"?
Blind woman who sees with sound
Stretching before exercise impairs performance and other heresy
CBC radio's brilliant science show as MP3s