New study shows an alternative to weight loss surgery

In a new study, researchers have taken a big step in understanding how the gut changes after gastric bypass surgery (also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery).

The findings can lead to new, more effective diagnostics and therapies of obesity.

The research was conducted by a team at Arizona State University and elsewhere.

Already considered a global epidemic, human obesity continues to be on the rise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 40% of the U.S. population is considered obese.

The gamut of adverse health effects associated with obesity is broad, including such devastating illnesses as type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, sleep apnea and certain forms of cancer.

Patients often suffer depression, loss of mobility, social isolation and inability to work.

Despite the looming need to address obesity, the causes are not well understood.

Researchers generally agree that genetic and gut microbiome composition and activity are important factors in determining who is obese and who isn’t.

The trillions of microbes in the human gut perform a vast range of critical functions in the body and have even been implicated in mood and behavior.

Among microbes’ critical responsibilities are the micro-management of nutrients in the food we digest—one of the reasons for their central role in the regulation of body weight.

Bariatric surgery is an operation that causes people to lose weight by making changes to the digestive system.

These changes are physiological and chemical and include gastric restriction, malabsorption, bile acid metabolism, and chemical signaling.

Although gastric bypass surgery has been successful for many patients suffering from morbid obesity, it is a serious, invasive procedure that is not without risk and expense.

In addition, some patients regain the weight they have lost, perhaps because they lack the favorable microbes necessary for permanent weight loss.

In the study, the team found changes in mucosal and fecal microbiomes that are reflected in gut metabolism after surgery.

The microbial changes after surgery corresponded to persistent changes in fecal fermentation and bile acid metabolism, both of which are associated with improved metabolic outcomes.

The team is currently working on a project funded by the National Institutes of Health in which the main goal is to quantify the contribution of the microbiome to the host energy balance.

This project is intended to help identify how microbes and metabolites can fight obesity.

One author of the study is ASU researcher Zehra Esra Ilhan.

The study is published in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes.

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