The gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria which play an important role in human metabolism. Animal and human studies have implicated distortion of the normal microbial balance in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Bacteria causing weight gain are thought to induce the expression of genes related to lipid and carbohydrate metabolism thereby leading to greater energy harvest from the diet. There is a large body of evidence demonstrating that alteration in the proportion of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes leads to the development of obesity, but this has been recently challenged. It is likely that the influence of gut microbiome on obesity is much more complex than simply an imbalance in the proportion of these phyla of bacteria. Modulation of the gut microbiome through diet, pre- and probiotics, antibiotics, surgery, and fecal transplantation has the potential to majorly impact the obesity epidemic.
Keywords: Bacteroidetes; Diet; Firmicutes; Microbial balance; Microbiome; Microbiota; Obesity; Prebiotic; Probiotic.