Antibiotics, Gut Microbiome and Obesity

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2018 Feb;88(2):185-200. doi: 10.1111/cen.13495. Epub 2017 Nov 20.


Antibiotics have been hailed by many as "miracle drugs" that have been effectively treating infectious diseases for over a century, leading to a marked reduction in morbidity and mortality. However, with the increasing use of antibiotics, we are now faced not only with the increasing threat of antibiotic resistance, but also with a rising concern about potential long-term effects of antibiotics on human health, including the development of obesity. The obesity pandemic continues to increase, a problem that affects both adults and children alike. Disruptions to the gut microbiome have been linked to a multitude of adverse conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, anxiety, autism, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. This review focuses on the association between antibiotics and obesity, and the role of the gut microbiome. There is strong evidence supporting the role of antibiotics in the development of obesity in well-controlled animal models. However, evidence for this link in humans is still inconclusive, and we need further well-designed clinical trials to clarify this association.

Keywords: animal models; antibiotics; bacteria; childhood; gut microbiome; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Models, Animal
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents