Interaction between obesity and the gut microbiota: relevance in nutrition

Annu Rev Nutr. 2011 Aug 21:31:15-31. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-072610-145146.


This review examines mechanisms by which the bacteria present in the gut interact with nutrients and host biology to affect the risk of obesity and associated disorders, including diabetes, inflammation, and liver diseases. The bacterial metabolism of nutrients in the gut is able to drive the release of bioactive compounds (including short-chain fatty acids or lipid metabolites), which interact with host cellular targets to control energy metabolism and immunity. Animal and human data demonstrate that phylogenic changes occur in the microbiota composition in obese versus lean individuals; they suggest that the count of specific bacteria is inversely related to fat mass development, diabetes, and/or the low levels of inflammation associated with obesity. The prebiotic and probiotic approaches are presented as interesting research tools to counteract the drop in target bacteria and thereby to estimate their relevance in the improvement of host metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics / metabolism
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Symbiosis


  • Prebiotics