Impact of the factors shaping gut microbiota on obesity

J Appl Microbiol. 2021 Nov;131(5):2131-2147. doi: 10.1111/jam.15036. Epub 2021 Mar 6.


Obesity is considered as a risk factor for chronic health diseases such as heart diseases, cancer and diabetes 2. Reduced physical activities, lifestyle, poor nutritional diet and genetics are among the risk factors associated with the development of obesity. In recent years, several studies have explored the link between the gut microbiome and the progression of diseases including obesity, with the shift in microbiome abundance and composition being the main focus. The alteration of gut microbiome composition affects both nutrients metabolism and specific gene expressions, thereby disturbing body physiology. Specifically, the abundance of fibre-metabolizing microbes is associated with weight loss and that of protein and fat-metabolizing bacteria with weight gain. Various internal and external factors such as genetics, maternal obesity, mode of delivery, breastfeeding, nutrition, antibiotic use and the chemical compounds present in the environment are known to interfere with the richness of the gut microbiota (GM), thus influencing weight gain/loss and ultimately the development of obesity. However, the effectiveness of each factor in potentiating the shift in microbes' abundance to result in significant changes that can lead to obesity is not yet clear. In this review, we will highlight the factors involved in shaping GM, their influence on obesity and possible interventions. Understanding the influence of these factors on the diversity of the GM and how to improve their effectiveness on disease conditions could be keys in the treatment of metabolic diseases.

Keywords: circulating metabolites; gut microbiota; nutrients metabolism; obesity; overweight.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight Gain


  • Dietary Fiber