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Customized Gut Bacteria Could Help Weight Loss

Update Date: Nov 06, 2014 06:44 PM EST

Our gut bacteria might determine how heavy we are, according to a new study.

Scientists have identified a specific, little known bacterial family that is highly heritable and more common in thinner people. The latest study also revealed that mice transplanted with this microbe were less likely to gain weight.

Researchers said the latest study suggests that customized probiotic therapies based on an individual's genetic makeup can help reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases.

"Our findings show that specific groups of microbes living in our gut could be protective against obesity - and that their abundance is influenced by our genes. The human microbiome represents an exciting new target for dietary changes and treatments aimed at combating obesity," Professor Tim Spector, Head of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London, said in a news release.

"Up until now, variation in the abundances of gut microbes has been explained by diet, the environment, lifestyle, and health. This is the first study to firmly establish that certain types of gut microbes are heritable -- that their variation across a population is in part due to host genotype variation, not just environmental influences. These results will also help us find new predictors of disease and aid prevention," added Ruth Ley, Associate Professor at Cornell University in the United States, according to a statement.

The latest findings were published in the journal Cell.

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