There is a growing awareness that the trillions of bacteria living in our intestinal tract, the “gut microbiome”, have a crucial role in determining our metabolic health. Alterations in the gut microbiome are described in obesity and obesity-related metabolic disorders such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Accumulating evidence also suggests that the gut microbiota can be considered an environmental factor in obesity. This key lecture explores the intersection of genetics, diet and the gut microbiota in developing obesity. Studies from Dr. Ronald Kahn and colleagues using genetically identical mice revealed that environmental cues strongly influences the composition of the gut microbiota, leading to changes in the propensity to develop obesity or obesity-related metabolic syndrome. Thus, Dr. Kahn’s studies raise important questions about the environmental impact of the gut microbiome and the interaction of an individual’s genetic background and gut microbiome in the treatment of obesity.
The Gut Microbiome: An Environmental Factor in Developing Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome?
C. Ronald Kahn, MD