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Fecal Bacteria May Be Influencing Body Fat

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Researchers from King’s College London say that what’s in feces can tell why a person is obese. The make-up of bacteria in excrement may impact the levels of dangerous fats in the human body.

In a large-scale study, the researchers examined stool samples from over 3,600 twins and found that some of the bacteria are inherited. They concluded that this could partly explain why obesity is hereditary, the BBC reports.

The team gathered information from participants on the bacteria present in fecal samples and compared these to six various measures of obesity, including body mass index (BMI) and different types of body fat.

They found the strongest association with visceral fat, where participants who had plenty of diversity in their feces had lower levels of visceral fat. Visceral fat is harmful, as it is stored in the stomach area close to critical organs such as the liver, intestines, and pancreas, and has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Dr. Michelle Beaumont, lead author on the study from the department of twin research and genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said that while the study showed a clear link between fecal bacteria and obesity, it’s highly improbable to explain its existence.

One of the researcher’s theories is that the lack of variety in fecal bacteria could lead to higher levels of gut microbes that dominate and are known to turn carbohydrates into fat.

Beaumont said more research is necessary to further investigate how microbes and bacteria in the human gut and feces can influence overall health.

There is a growing body of scientific works that suggest how gut bacteria may play a role in obesity. At least 50% of human excrement is made up of bacteria from the gut.

Beaumont said that consuming a diet rich in a variety of foods – much like the early hunter-gatherer tribes – could increase the microbe diversity in feces.

The study was published in Genome Biology.

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