Keen eyed readers are doubtless aware of my fixation on the question of why there are so many fat people in America. Why so many VW sized hippos waddling through our supermarket aisles and fast food establishments? I was just at a barbecue ribs joint and was stunned at the obese monstrosities shoveling food into their gullets.
The October 22 New Yorker has an interesting article on bacteria. It turns out our war on bacteria may be a factor in our growing obesity problem. Bacteria, as you probably know, are tiny lifeforms living in areas like our stomach, mouth, ears and other fun places. They cause various diseases. About 70 years ago, antibiotics, which kill bacteria, were developed. You probably got many shots of antibiotics as a child and throughout your life. One bacteria that might have been attacked by your antibiotic shots lives in the stomach and is called H. pylori. The article says…
There is… convincing evidence that destroying H. pylori could alter metabolism in ways that increase the risk of obesity.
Why would this happen? It’s complex and you have read this article for full details, but basically H. pylori has a strong relationship with two stomach hormones which effectively tell us when we feel full or hungry. If you eradicate this bacteria, you throw these hormones are out of whack, and consequently, you keep eating long past when you should stop. To quote the article…
“A generation of kids are growing up without H. Pylori regulating their levels of ghrelin [one of the hormones],” Blaser told me. These results suggest that the message to stop eating never makes it to the brain. If those hormones aren’t controlled, it becomes far more difficult to control one’s weight.
A team from Blaser’s lab then fed antibiotics to mice in dosages that were comparable to those used to treat children with ear infections. The diet of the mice remained unchanged, but, compared with a control group, they gained considerable weight.
This might explain all those hideous, fat kids you see running around. At least fat mice are kind of cute.